Tracey Deer knows Beans
(September 17, 2019, Montréal, QC) EMAfilms and the Canadian Film Centre (CFC) have announced the start of production on the feature film Beans, which is scheduled to wrap in early October. Directed by award-winning Mohawk filmmaker Tracey Deer, who co-wrote the script with Meredith Vuchnich, the film depicts a 12-year-old Mohawk girl’s coming-of-age during the harrowing Oka Crisis in Quebec in 1990. It also marks the first feature film to explore the event narratively onscreen. It is being shot in Kahnawake, Kanesatake, Oka and Montréal.
Tracey Deer, who created the multi-award-winning, long-running series Mohawk Girls, was inspired by her childhood experiences to create this film. “I was twelve years old during the Oka Crisis and that experience completely shaped my understanding of my place in this country and how unsafe it is to be an Indigenous person,” said Deer. “I want better for future generations, and that is only possible if attitudes change and allies come on board; so my hope is that the film will give people a new perspective of our reality to build bridges of understanding and compassion.”
EMAfilms’ Anne-Marie Gélinas, producer of Beans, has worked with Deer for the past seven years to develop and finance the film. “I believe this story is an essential one that needs to take its long overdue place in Canadian Cinema,” added Gélinas.
Co-writer and CFC alumna Meredith Vuchnich is a well-seasoned dramatic and comedic television writer. Vuchnich will also be serving as executive producer, together with CFC’s Justine Whyte. Additionally, the team includes cinematographer Marie Davignon, production designer André Chamberland, and costume designer Eric Poirier.
Joining the filmmakers is a dynamic cast of Indigenous actors who are bringing the brilliant script vividly to life. The lead role of Beans is portrayed by Kiawentiio Tarbell (Anne with an E); Beans’ friend April is played by Paulina Jewel Alexis; Beans’ younger sister Ruby is portrayed by delightful newcomer Violah Beauvais; theatre vet Rainbow Dickerson (Chicago Fire) plays Beans’ mother, Lily; BC actor Joel Montgrand (DC’s Legends of Tomorrow) plays Beans’ father, Kania’Tariio; D’Pharaoh Woon-a-Tai (Murdoch Mysteries) plays Hank, April’s brother; and the role of Gary, Hank and April’s father, is played by Jay Cardinal Villeneuve (The Revenent).
Beans was one of two projects that CFC Features, in partnership with Bell Media’s Crave, selected for development in 2018, in consultation with Women in View, to recruit promising projects by female directors. “I’m excited and proud to have CFC support these three talented female filmmakers realize the story of Beans, allowing audiences, through the power and magic of cinema, the opportunity to revisit and reinterpret the pivotal role the Oka crisis has played in Canadian history,” said Justine Whyte, Director & Executive Producer, CFC Features.
CFC Features invests in and collaborates with the most promising filmmakers across Canada to bring their stories to the big screen. It has produced 24 critically and commercially successful films to date; Beans marks the 25th feature to be developed and financed for production with the support of CFC Features.
Gélinas negotiated and secured production financing for the film from Telefilm Canada; SODEC; the Canadian Media Fund; Crave, a division of Bell Media; and CFC Features, among others. The project received instrumental support in the script’s development from The Harold Greenberg Fund and the TIFF-CBC Films 2018 Screenwriter Award. Beans will be distributed by Mongrel Media in English Canada and Metropole Films in Quebec and will be released in fall 2020, followed by a streaming premiere on Crave.
Development at CFC Features is supported by the Government of Ontario, with production support and financing provided by valued program partner, Crave, a division of Bell Media.