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TIFF 2020 Review: Beans

An adolescent Mohawk girl comes of age during the Oka Crisis of 1990.

While being interviewed alongside her mother to attend a prep school, Tekehentahkhwa (Kiawentiio) has her name mispronounced a couple of times and decides to provide her nickname “Beans” so to ease the situation; when questioned by her skeptical father about why it is so important to attend, she breaks down into tears.  He informs his daughter that she needs to toughen up.  As this is taking place, Mohawks are protesting the expansion of a private golf course onto their sacred burial lands in Oka, Quebec.

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Beans deals with standing up for your rights both as an individual and as a group.  The vividness of the protests and ethnic conflict is drawn from the personal trauma experienced by filmmaker Tracey Deer who was the same age as the protagonist when the real event occurred.  Moments that standout displaying the ethnic divide and insensitivity in a subtle but unmistakable manner are the mispronouncing of the Indigenous name and Tekehentahkhwa with her sister collecting golf balls found amongst the tombstones. A scene that rang true is when the mother and her two daughters head off to the protest thinking that it will be one big adventure but instead the situation quickly turns into some much more menacing.  As for the coming of age tale and the character arc, they feel as forced as the concluding shot whereas the opening driving shots felt more organic.

Trevor Hogg is a freelance video editor and writer who currently resides in Canada; he can be found at LinkedIn.

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