In 1990, a land dispute between the Mohawk people and the Canadian government caused an armed stand-off between the two parties. Writer-director Tracey Deer witnessed the so-called Oka Crisis and weaves her own profound emotional journey into the very fabric of her film. Beans channels the events, lasting a total of 78 days, through the perspective of its 12-year-old protagonist Tekehentahkhwa (Kiawentiio), caught on the cusp between childhood and adulthood, passivity and action.

First introduced by her quirky nickname “Beans”, the audience meets Tekehentahkhwa as a cheerful and gentle girl whose life is almost immediately thrown into turmoil when the world around her shifts. Eyes suddenly wide open to the injustice committed against her people, she quickly leaves behind her girlhood innocence. Driven by the desire to be as tough as the older Mohawk teens who make a lasting impression on her, Beans begins to take action herself, refusing to remain an idle bystander as history is being written all around her. Kiawentiio acts the emotions of her character formidably, carrying much of the film on her young shoulders; meanwhile the adults, including her parents, exist as supporting characters only.

Deer uses real archival news footage to illustrate the escalating crisis, making the increasingly violent acts white Canadians commit against the Mohawk all the more palpable. While certain background facts of the crisis are never truly explained to the audience, this is a reflection of Beans’ own, innocent understanding. Tekehentahkhwa ultimately emerges triumphant and stronger than before, reclaiming both her name and her indigenous heritage. The resolution of the Oka Crisis, however, is only a small step into the long process towards reconciliation.

Fuelled and propelled by the personal experiences it is based on, Beans is a deeply moving film, wrenching the heart as well as the gut in its raw urgency.



CAST: Kiawentiio, Rainbow Dickerson, Violah Beauvais, Paulina Alexis, D’Pharaoh McKay Woon-A-Tai

DIRECTOR: Tracey Deer

WRITERS: Tracey Deer, Meredith Vuchnich

SYNOPSIS: Inspired by true events, BEANS is about a Mohawk girl on the cusp of adolescence who must grow up fast and become her own kind of warrior during the armed stand-off known as the 1990 Oka Crisis.