Mohawk filmmaker Tracey Deer makes childhood dream come true


During a Zoom interview from her home outside of Montreal, Tracey Deer sometimes uses the word “we” instead of “I” to describe the journey that led her to make the dramatic feature film. Beans.

The Oka Crisis tells a powerful coming of age story

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Beans (played by Kiawentiio, left) sees his teenage problems exacerbated by the Oka conflict in 1990.


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Beans (represented by Kiawentiio, left) sees his teenage problems exacerbated by the Oka conflict in 1990.

Posted: 03:00 on July 23, 2021

The title of the film, Beans, is a cute nickname for a pretty 12 year old Mohawk girl with a much more dignified traditional name: Tekehentahkhwa.

As in the movie, the name is disarming. By these stealthy means, it allows difficult material – both personal and historical – and very strong emotions to enter the cinematic experience.

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It is not an assignment. Beans tells the story of a 12-year-old girl who comes of age amid the rage and racism of the 1990 Oka Crisis, who saw a community in the Quebec suburbs engage in a 78-day deadlock with the Mohawk community on a golf course expansion project that would absorb a traditional cemetery.

Deer uses the collective pronoun, she explains, as a way of meaning that she is simultaneously talking about her adult self and her younger self, portrayed in the film by the supernaturally moving young Mohawk actress Kiawentiio.

“I keep saying ‘we’,” she said. “It’s me and the 12 year old girl in me.”

This little girl went through terrible things during those 78 days, although Deer is quick to recognize that her own experience sometimes drifts away from the experiences of her heroine.

“The movie begins with the title ‘Inspired by Real Events’ because the events you see are recreations of historical moments,” says Deer. “All of those moments happened, but personally I wasn’t at all of them. I was at some of them.

“For the sake of the trip and the story, I put her in certain situations that I haven’t experienced directly,” she says.

“What is inspired by my coming of age is really her emotional line. Everything that she crosses emotionally is what I experienced emotionally.”

In the opening minutes of the film, we see Tekehentahkhwa – her name is “Beans” – sitting next to her mother Lily (Rainbow Dickerson) in an interview with the principal of a posh Montreal high school that Beans wants to attend. She tells the principal that she aspires to be a doctor or a lawyer but secretly aspires to be an artist.

Deer herself was more precise in her ambitions.

La réalisatrice Tracey Deer avait 12 ans lorsqu'elle a vécu la crise d'Oka au Québec.</p>
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<p>Director Tracey Deer was 12 when she experienced the Oka crisis in Quebec.</p>
<p>“I caught the movie bug when I was 12,” she says.  “And I had to tell my parents that I wanted to be a filmmaker and that I was only 12, so they took it really well. They didn’t think it would hold up, but it stuck.”			</p>
<p><em>Beans</em> is Deer’s first dramatic feature film;  his career as a filmmaker began with documentaries, including the 2005 film <em>Mohawk Girls</em>, and <em>Native club</em> (2008) who looked at “very controversial and controversial topics in my community, membership politics and the amount of blood”.			</p>
<p>Deer says she hit a wall after <em>Native club</em>, which was all consuming.			</p>
<p>“(It was) a four-year process. I ate it and bled and breathed it. It was constant and when it finally came out into the world I was exhausted and I started to think: And next? What’s the next thing that I will become obsessed with and occupy every moment? ”			</p>
<p>The filmmaker languished for months as she wondered what to do next, until she reconnected with 12-year-old herself and her original dream.  “So I thought, let’s see if my skills as a documentary maker can translate into fiction and let’s shake them up.”			</p>
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Cerf (à droite) dirige Kiawentiio (au centre) et Violah Beauvais dans Haricots.</p>
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<p>Deer (right) leads Kiawentiio (center) and Violah Beauvais in Beans.</p>
<p>This decision led her to create and produce the APTN TV comedy series. <em>Mohawk Girls </em>(2010-2017);  Deer found herself thriving in this new groove, with a new and larger audience.			</p>
<p>“The other reason I jumped into the world of fiction with both feet, and what really turned me on is getting access to more people,” she says.  “I’ve realized over the years that there’s a certain audience you can get with a documentary, but there’s a whole bunch of audiences that aren’t interested in getting close to it. And I want to have it. access to all those hearts and minds. ”			</p>
<p>Deer promises to do just that now that <em>Beans</em> is on wider Canadian airing starting Friday.  The film has been waiting since its premiere last year at the Toronto International Film Festival, where Deer won the “Emerging Talent” award.  Earlier this year, the film won Best Picture at the Canadian Screen Awards.  This seems to be an affirmation of his decision to go beyond the documentary.			</p>
<blockquote class=

“The little girl in me, a little girl with a big dream, she smiles so much. We did it.” – Tracey Deer

“With fiction there are a lot of opportunities to bring a lot of medicine into the story, all wrapped up in a lot of entertainment,” she says. “People are not as aware that they are ingesting all this medicine, so I like that.”

The filmmaker says that creating works of fiction has opened many doors, while also expanding its reach for people who want to connect with her vision and appreciate her voice.

“People want to hear the stories I have to share,” she says. “With someone who felt so insignificant, so invisible, so worthless because of what I went through during the Oka Crisis, and I’m here with the power, with the platform, with the voice , it’s such a wonderful circle. And I’m ‘I’m over the moon. I’m so happy.

“The little girl in me, a little girl with a big dream, she smiles so much. We did it.”

Beans plays at McGillivray VIP Cinemas.

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Twitter: @FreepKing

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