Still from Mohawk Girls
Still from Mohawk Girls

Mohawk Girls

by Tracey Deer
A look inside the lives of three Mohawk teenagers as they tackle issues of identity, culture and family.
2005  ·  1h2m  ·  Canada
About the Film
The massive Mercier Bridge looms over the eastern end of the Kahnawake Native reserve carrying commuters into the city of Montreal. For Amy, Lauren and Felicia, three Mohawk teens living in its shadow, the bridge also serves as a constant reminder of the bustling world just beyond the borders of their tiny community. Like typical teenagers, all three are wrestling with critical decisions about their futures. But for these girls, there is more at stake. The rules on the reserve can be strict and unforgiving. Move away and you risk losing your credibility, or worse, your rights as a Mohawk. Stay and you forego untold experiences and opportunities in the “outside world.” Like nearly half of the teenagers in Kahnawake, filmmaker Tracey Deer utilized government subsidies to attend private school in Montreal. Vowing never to return, she then left the reserve to attend college in the U.S. Now a graduate of Dartmouth University, she has come home to Kahnawake to play a role in the evolution of her community. With insight, humour and compassion, Deer takes us inside the lives of these three teenagers as they tackle the same issues of identity, culture and family she faced a decade earlier. Like her, they are outspoken, honest and wise beyond their years. Shot over two years, and interspersed with home videos from Deer’s own adolescence, Mohawk Girls provides a surprising inside look at modern Aboriginal youth culture. Deeply emotional yet unsentimental, it reveals the hope, despair, heartache and promise of growing up Native at the beginning of the 21st century.
Upcoming Screenings

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In the Press
Patricia Tassinari
Tracey Deer
Joanne Robertson, Linda Ludwick, Christina Fon and Adam Symansky
Sound Editor
Mona Laviolette
Soundtrack Composer
Mona Laviolette and Linda Ludwick
Tracey Deer
Tracey Deer
Marco Fania and Lynne Trépanier
Film Related
About the Director

Tracey Deer

Filmmaker Tracey Deer is a Mohawk filmmaker with multiple credits to her name, as a producer, writer and director. She currently resides in Kahnawake, her home reserve in Quebec.

Deer began her professional career with CanWest Broadcasting in Montreal, and later joined Rezolution Pictures to co-direct One More River: The Deal that Split the Cree, with Neil Diamond (Cree), which won the Best Documentary Award at the 2005 Rendez-vous du cinema québécois in Montreal and was nominated for Best Social/Political Documentary at the Geminis.

She next wrote, directed and filmed Mohawk Girls, about the lives of three teenagers, and herself as a teen, growing up in Kahnawake, which won the Alanis Obomsawin Best Documentary Award at the 2005 imagineNATIVE Film & Media Arts Festival.
Her most recent solo documentary, Club Native, focuses on the issues of community membership and blood quantum, and was an official selection of Hot Docs 2008, won the Colin Low Award for Best Canadian Documentary at DOXA/Documentary Film and Video Festival, and won additional awards at imagineNative, First Peoples’ Festival (Land InSights) and Weeneebeg Film Festival. Tracey won the 2009 Gemini for best documentary writing and Club Native won the Canada Award, a special Gemini prize for the best multicultural program.

She has also teamed up with director Paul Rickard (Cree) of Mushkeg Media to co-write and co-direct a feature documentary for APTN about a grass roots Mohawk language immersion school in Akwesasne called Kanien’kehaka: Living the Language.
Deer formed Mohawk Princess Pictures in 2006, which produced her first short fiction called Escape Hatch, a dramedy about the romantic misadventures of a Mohawk woman on her quest for love.

In the fall of 2009, Tracey teamed up again with Rezolution Pictures to transform her short Escape Hatch into the pilot Mohawk Girls, the series for APTN. The team is now in development writing 6 scripts for season 1. In the summer of 2010, Tracey traveled to Winnipeg to direct an episode for APTN’s 3rd season of the casino drama Cashing In, produced by Buffalo Gals and Animiki See Digital Production Inc.

Most recently, Tracey produced, wrote and co-directed the 6-part documentary series Working it Out Together, hosted by Waneek Horn-Miller, produced by Rezolution Pictures for APTN. It is slated to air in the fall of 2011.
Currently, she has multiple projects in development, including a 3D feature documentary and a fiction feature screenplay. Tracey received a B.A. in film studies from Dartmouth College in 2000, graduating with two awards for excellence. In 2009, she shared the Don Haig Award with colleague Brett Gaylor for overall career achievement as an emerging filmmaker. In 2008, Playback Magazine declared her one of the 25 rising stars in the Canadian entertainment industry. She is also a member of The Writer’s Guild of Canada.

“Tracey represents the next wave of native filmmaking,” says Adam Symansky, NFB producer of Mohawk Girl and Club Native. “It isn’t based on the past so much as on native communities taking responsibility and control of their future. That is the challenge she is putting out in her films.”

Other films by Tracey Deer