By David Baldwin for Mr. Will Wong
Beans (Kiawentiio) wants to fit in. The 12-year-old Mohawk girl just applied to an elite middle school and she is being bullied by some older teens in her Indigenous community. While she struggles to find her place, two Mohawk communities begin a standoff with Quebec authorities over the expansion of a golf course into a neighbouring forest and burial ground, thrusting Beans into a world of racism and violence she has never experienced before.
In her first narrative Feature, Co-Writer/Director Tracey Deer has crafted a powerful coming-of-age story that centres around the Oka Crisis in 1990 Quebec. Deer does not shy away from the intensity of the situation, frequently thrusting her Cast right into the middle of her depiction. Her attention to detail is impeccable, and the way she merges actual news footage from the event with the Film’s recreations is superb. Beans is filled with scenes that are tragic and genuinely heartbreaking to watch, each one emphasizing the despicable racism these Indigenous communities were subjected to because they wanted to fight for their land rights. Deer does not even pretend to sugar coat any of it. Everything presented in Beans feels very real and very authentic, and so closely mirrors the actual news footage from 1990, not to mention from the present day, that it becomes downright frightening to comprehend.
For how great the Film looks and how awful it will make you feel to know that something like this happened (and is STILL happening), it would all be for nothing without Beans herself. We get to see the world through her eyes – and the young Kiawentiio is absolutely spectacular in the Leading Role. She captures the optimistic spirit of a typical 12-year-old and expertly conveys the trauma she has to endure because of the standoff. I think some of the tonal whiplash the Film goes through puts her at a disadvantage in some instances (and a particular extended moment in the Third Act drags the Film out needlessly), but she handles nearly everything with grace and an expert precision that extends beyond her years as an actor. First-time actors Violah Beauvais – as Beans’ younger sister Ruby – and Paulina Alexis – as Beans’ friend April – are cast perfectly and complement Kiawentiio’s beautiful performance. If anyone can even come close to matching her, it is Rainbow Dickerson as Beans’ mother Lily. Her vivid emotions are devastating to watch in action, and I doubt I will forget any of those visceral expressions any time soon.
BEANS screens at TIFF ’20 as follows:
Sun, Sep 13
TIFF Bell Lightbox
12:00pm and 12:30pm
Tue, Sept 15
Online at Bell Digital Cinema
#TIFF20: TIFF TRIBUTE AWARDS HIGHLIGHTS
By Mr. Will Wong
The 2020 TIFF TRIBUTE AWARDS, now in its second year, took place tonight virtually and were aired on CTV. Hosted by eTalk’s newest addition Co-Anchor Tyrone Edwards and Chloe Wilde, the Awards in the absence of an in-person gala this year, were comprised of taped introductions and speeches from recipients in five categories.
Recipients tonight included Director Mira Nair at TIFF ’20 with A SUITABLE BOY; Terence Blanchard who scored Regina King‘s acclaimed TIFF ’20 selection ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI; Tracey Deer who directs this year’s BEANS; Sir Anthony Hopkins who stars in THE FATHER at the Festival; Director Chloé Zhao, at the Festival with NOMADLAND; and Kate Winslet who stars in very buzzed AMMONITE.
Presenters and speakers on the broadcast included: Regina King, Martin Scorsese, Delroy Lindo, Colin Farrell, Rosamund Pike, Ava DuVernay, Jodi Foster, Olivia Colman, Brie Larson, Jason Reitman and more.
Performing Stevie Wonder‘s Stevie Wonder’s “Love’s in Need of Love Today“, Toronto’s Shawn Mendes appeared on the broadcast announcing that his Shawn Mendes Foundation will launch an annual Changemaker Award for Filmmakers making film with a social message.
Frontline workers from Toronto area hospitals also have been invited to attend special screenings of some of the Festival’s marquee Films like CONCRETE COWBOY as a special gesture of thanks for their hard work amidst these challenging times.
Those honoured tonight and some memorable quotes:
TIFF IMPACT AWARD – MIRA NAIR
Nair: “When I work, it feels like fun. Thanks TIFF for an award to have my fun and the extraordinary privilege to make Cinema. To know my fun and art have made change which is a beautiful feeling. If we don’t tell our stories nobody will, but more so in this, I’ve learned the great power of listening and being porous.”.
TIFF VARIETY ARTISAN AWARD – TERENCE BLANCHARD
Blanchard: “I’m humbled by this entire experience. My life in Film has been one of growth and expansion for decades. I originally set-out to be Jazz performer but being in this realm has expanded my creative ability beyond my belief. I love Toronto and have been coming many years. To get award from place I love so much, warms my heart.”.
TIFF EMERGING TALENT AWARD – TRACEY DEER
Deer: “I’ve wanted be Filmmaker since I was 12 and now I’m living my dream come true. Thank you my community… and the biggest thanks to my mother who told me when I was a girl that I can do whatever I want and not let anyone get in my way. My mother is always right and this is something indigenous kids need to hear. Their voices are important and we need to create an environment they can feel safe in and I put out a challenge to do all we can to make it better for them.”.
TIFF TRIBUTE ACTORS AWARD – SIR ANTHONY HOPKINS
Hopkins: “I’m astonished I’m still in work at my age. I want to thank front-line workers and first responders around the world. This award is yours. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Have a great day, have a great life.”.
TIFF EBERT DIRECTOR AWARD – CHLOÉ ZHAO
Zhao: “I’m so amazed by the hard work TIFF has done putting a festival together, to help us take a break from all the craziness this year. It’s incredible what you have done. One most important takeaway I have from my four films is that when I entered the industry I felt it was competitive and didn’t know anyone. If I fail or make mistakes, I carry this with me for a long time. I feel lucky people I work with are there when I succeed and when I fail. Would like to share this with them.”.
TIFF TRIBUTE ACTOR AWARD – KATE WINSLET
Winslet: “It does feel odd to get an award in a time like this. Since I am able to say few words., I’d like to offer my deepest sympathies to families and individuals whose lives forever have been altered over the past six months. I commend TIFF for keeping the poignancy of storytelling alive. Even more so as we piece together this world and everything happening in it. However minor my thoughts might be, my feelings are heartfelt that we can return to a healthier reality with kindness and respect regardless of race, gender, beliefs or sexual orientation.”.
More on the Awards here.
(Photo credit: TIFF)