Canadian filmmaker Tracey Deer continues to take the world by storm as her film Beans, a story set during the 1990 Oka Crisis in Quebec, has now been selected for the prestigious Berlin Film Festival.
On behalf of the whole @BeansTheFilm team, we are ecstatic to be a part of @berlinale Generations program this year!!! The enthusiastic reception the film has received thus far has been truly amazing, gratifying and heartwarming. #thankyou to all programmers and our audiences ❤️ https://t.co/4w8XLNTmhi
— Tracey Deer (@traceydeer) February 8, 2021
Deer's debut feature film was also part of the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and the writer-director received the TIFF Emerging Talent Award. The filmmaker won a Directors Guild of Canada award for Beans as well.
The movie is a coming-of-age story a Mohawk girl named Tekehentahkhwa, who goes by her nickname Beans (Kiawentiio). At the outset of the film, you see the 12-year-old and her parents, played by Rainbow Dickerson and Joel Montgrand, disagree about whether or not Beans should leave the reserve to go to school.
While Beans manages getting older and navigating this new phase in her life, an initially peaceful protest on a neighbouring reserve turns into a massive standoff to protect the land from a golf course expansion. At this point, Beans' family becomes more separated from the world outside her community.
Through the lens of this fictional family, Deer tells an honest and heartbreaking story about the racism, discrimination, activism and violence of the Oka Crisis.
The 78-day standoff near the town of Oka was between Mohawk protesters and police. This came after the mayor of Oka announced a plan for a housing development and golf course expansion over the Kanesatake Mohawk reserve.
Kiawentiio's performance as the lead character is breathtaking and striking, with the character of Beans based on Deer's personal experience as a 12-year-old during the Oka Crisis.
In an interview with CBC four years ago, the Mohawk filmmaker revealed the moment in the Oka Crisis that took her "from being a child into adulthood." Women, children and elders were evacuating to Whiskey Trench and got stuck on the Mercier Bridge for hours, while the cars were searched. A crowd of Quebec residents started pelting the cars with rocks.
"As we got closer, there was just clouds of dust in the air," Deer said. "My mother started screaming and crying because she was so afraid."
"I remember also being afraid but wanting to understand what is this, what's happening... I could see the policemen just standing there, not doing anything."
There's something so powerful about watching such a dark moment in Canada's history through the perspective of a 12-year-old, whether you're particularly knowledgable on the Oka Crisis or less aware.
Not only is it great to see a Canadian get priased in the film industry internationally, it's even more impactful when the film itself is such an emotional and personal story for the filmmaker.