Directed by: Tracey Deer
Written by: Tracey Deer and Meredith Vuchnich
Cast: Kiawenti:io, Rainbow Dickerson, Violah Beauvais, Paulina Alexis, D'Pharaoh McKay Woon-A-Tai

Mohawk filmmaker Tracey Deer led the acclaimed dramedy Mohawk Girls to five award-winning seasons as its co-creator, director, and co-showrunner. She received four consecutive Canadian Screen Award nominations for Best Direction in a Comedy Series for Mohawk Girls, and she has been honored at TIFF with the Birks Diamond Tribute Award. Tracey's debut narrative feature Beans, a coming-of-age story about a young Mohawk girl during the Oka Crisis that was inspired by her own experiences. She began production after returning from LA, where she was a writing co-EP on the Netflix/CBC series Anne with an E. Tracey chairs the Board of Directors of Women in View, a non-profit that promotes greater diversity and gender parity in Canadian media. She has mentored emerging talent as leader of the Director Training Program at the imagineNATIVE Film & Media Arts Festival, a guest at the National Screen Institute (NSI) New Indigenous Voices Program, and NSI’s new IndigiDocs training course.

Beans

2021

Twelve-year-old Beans is on the edge: torn between innocent childhood and reckless adolescence; forced to grow up fast and become the tough Mohawk warrior she needs to be during the Oka Crisis, the turbulent Indigenous uprising that tore Quebec and Canada apart for 78 tense days in the summer of 1990.

Director’s notes

This project goes back a long way for me. I was Beans. I was twelve-years-old when I lived through an armed stand-off between my people and the Quebec and Canadian governments known as The Oka Crisis. The Mohawk Nation of Kanesatake and Kahnawà:ke stood up to a formidable bully - and won. That summer I knew I wanted to become a filmmaker and vowed to one day tell this story.

Canadians did not experience that summer as we did. The media painted us as terrorists. Our neighbors attacked us. Our basic human rights were violated. And instead of offering protection, the provincial police and Canadian army aimed their weapons at us. Sound familiar? Thirty years later, these same scenes are playing out across our television screens as people stand up for racial and social justice across North America. They too are being met with violence, instead of support.

With this film, I want Canadians and audiences around the world to experience what it was like to be in the crosshairs of so much hate and anger, and the destructive impact it had on me and my people. These kinds of experiences shatter innocence, confidence, and hope. Even though this film takes place in 1990 and shows how bad things were, these messages of intolerance, ignorance and indifference are still being heard loud and clear across this country today. We live it every day. Like an infection, hate and anger spreads and multiplies on both sides. We must stop this cycle of violence to protect the next generation from repeating the mistakes of our past and, shamefully, our present.

During that fateful, scary summer, I learned many terrible lessons: the world was dangerous, my difference made me a target and I was considered so worthless that it was acceptable to harm me. This was my place as an Indigenous person in this country. That’s a very dark reality to grow up in, and to thrive despite it has required a very long road of healing. I work hard every day to live my best life. But the wounds of my past still haunt me.

I felt invisible and unimportant, so to give voice to our experiences, thoughts, feelings, dreams and fears through character-based storytelling is my way to reclaim my worth, honour my people and celebrate our resilience. I want our children to grow up confident that they are safe in this country – and that their lives and dreams are important. For that to happen, Canadians need to step up. I made this film to inspire them to open their hearts and head back into their everyday lives as allies of Indigenous people. We need their friendship, support and action for society to change for the better.

I want all of my people to thrive, not merely survive. That’s why I tell stories.

 

Festivals

  • Berlinale, Generation Kplus, Germany:
    • Crystal Bear for Best Film
  • Toronto International Film Festival (World Premiere), Canada :
    • TIFF Emerging Talent Award
    • TIFF's Rising Star
    • TIFF's Canada's Top Ten
  • Vancouver International Film Festival, Canada :
    • Best Canadian Film
    • Most Popular Canadian Narrative
  • Yukon Available Light Festival, Canada
    • Best Canadian Feature
  • Kingston Film Fest, Canada
    • Audience Choice Award
  • Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival, USA
    • Audience Choice Best Canadian Feature Fiction
  • Provincetown International Film Festival, USA
    • NY Women in Film & Télévision Award for Excellence in Narrative Filmmaking
  • Canadian Film Festival in Dieppe, France
    • Coup de Cœur du Jury
  • Cordillera International Film Festival, USA
    • Best Audience Awards
  • Filmfestival Freistadt, Austria
    • Youth Jury Prize & Special Mention in Competition
  • Nara International Film Festival, Japan
    • Youth Jury Best Film
  • Zlin Film Festival, Czech Republic
    • International Ecumenical Jury Award
  • Adelaide Youth Film Festival, Australia
    • Best Film & Best Film for 16+
  • Nuuk International Film Festival, Greenland, Denmark
    • Best Feature
  • LUCAS - International Festival for Young Film Lovers, Germany
    • Special Mention - MOZAIK Bridging the Borders Award
  • Arctic Film Festival - Golden Raven, Russia
    • Grand Prix
  • Independent FilmFest Osnabrück, Germany
    • Film Award for Children's Rights
  • Sao Paulo Film Festival, Brazil
  • Los Cabos Film Festival, Mexico
  • Gold Coast Film Festival, Australia
  • Stockholm International Film Festival Junior, Sweden
  • Kristiansand International Children's Film Festival, Norway
  • Festival de Cine Canadiense de Madrid, Spain
  • Athena Film Festival, USA
  • Miami Film Festival, USA
  • New York International Children's FF, USA
  • Cinequest Film & VR Festival, USA
  • Seattle International Film Festival, USA
  • Hawai’I International Film Festival Spring Edition, USA
  • Ashland Independent Film Festival, USA
  • Columbus International Film and Animation Festival, USA
  • Milwaukee Film Festival, USA
  • Maryland Film Festival, USA
  • USA Film Festival, USA
  • Maine International Film Festival, USA
  • Hopkins Center for the Arts, Special Screening, Dartmouth, USA
  • Cine Las Americas Intl Film Festival, USA
  • Filmfest DC/Washington, DC International Film Festival, USA
  • NewFilmmakers Los Angeles, USA
  • Bentonville Film Festival, USA
  • BlackStar Film Festival, USA
  • Phoenix Film Festival, USA
  • Sante Fe Indian Market, USA
  • Nia Tero Drive in, USA
  • CSUFresno, USA
  • Lost Weekend Film Festival
  • Vail Film Festival, USA
  • Port Townsend FF, USA
  • Heartland International Film Festival
  • Vermont International Film Festival
  • Buffalo International Film Festival
  • Frankfort Film Festival
  • FilmColumbia Festival
  • Virginia Film Festival
  • Centre Film Festival
  • Chicago International Children's Film Festival
  • Pocahantas Reframed Film Festival, USA
  • Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, USA
  • University of the Arts
  • Glimmerglass Film Days: Rise
  • American Indian Film Festival
  • SIFF Virtual Cinema
  • NatiVisions Film Festival
  • Loft Film Fest
  • National Museum of the American Indian
  • Pocahontas Reframed Film Festival
  • Northwest Film Forum

 

Awards & Achivements

  • Winner of the best Features Film at the WGC Sceenwritting awards
  • DGC Discovery Award
  • Canadian Screen Awards:
    • Best Motion Picture, Nomination
    • John Dunning Best First Feature Film award, Nomination
    • Achievement in casting, Nomination
    • Achievement in sound mixing, Nomination
    • Achievement in cinematography, Nomination
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