Deer recently made her narrative feature debut co-writing and directing the coming-of-age film “Beans,” which captures a young Mohawk girl’s experiences during the 1990s Oka Crisis. The feature debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival and also screened at the Berlin Film Festival, after which FilmRise acquired the U.S. distribution rights.
In 2020, Deer was awarded the TIFF Emerging Talent Award and named one of Variety’s 10 Screenwriters to Watch.
In advance of receiving the TIFF award, Deer shared the impetus behind the story with Variety.
“That was the age that I really first experienced [racism] in such a massive way, and it had a profound effect on my understanding of who I am and my self worth. My sense of safety in the world,” Deer explained. “So it has such a devastating effect on young people.”
She continued: “These issues are so charged. And a lot of the people who really need to listen have a very big wall when it comes to that, and I thought, connecting with a child would be a safe way into the topic, that maybe their understanding could be opened a little bit more by experiencing it through the eyes of a child.”
Though Deer made her feature directorial debut with “Beans,” the emerging filmmaker has a long resume making feature documentaries, including “One More River: The Deal That Split the Cree,” “Mohawk Girls” and “Club Native,” as part of her partnership with Rezolution Pictures. Dee and Rezolution Pictures also teamed up for the documentary series “Working It Out Together.” For five seasons, Deer served as the co-showrunner and director for the scripted television version of “Mohawk Girls,” for which she earned a TIFF Birks Diamond Tribute and a nomination for direction in a comedy series at the Canadian Screen Awards.
Deer is also known for her work as a co-executive producer on Netflix’s “Anne With an E,” where “Beans” star Kiawentiio made a guest appearance during its third season.
“I so wish that I could say that we discovered her for our movie,” Deer said of Kiawentiio in September. “We did a North American open casting search. She was everything that I wanted for this character, just naturally in terms of her sensitivity, her bravery, in terms of her talent, and her trust in herself.”
In addition to CAA, Deer continues to be represented by Perry Zimel at Oscars Abrams Zimel & Associates.
Carole Horst contributed to this story.