Beans Wins Rogers Best Canadian Film Award

March 8, 2022

Kiawentiio as Beans in Beans | Photo by Sebastien Raymond.

Beans, the autobiographically inspired tale of a young girl’s experience of the Kanesatake Resistance, has won the Toronto Film Critics Association’s 2021 Rogers Best Canadian Film Award.

The award is the richest annual film prize in Canada. Director Tracey Deer received this year’s honour, which was accepted on Tracey’s behalf by the film’s co-writer and executive producer Meredith Vuchnich. Two previous winners, directors Jennifer Baichwal (Anthropocene) and Sarah Polley (Stories We Tell) presented the award. Deer’s film was drawn from her childhood experience and events she witnessed during the 1990 land dispute between Mohawks and the town of Oka, Quebec, with intervention by police and the Canadian Armed Forces. Beans previously won the award for Best Picture at the 2021 Canadian Screen Awards and was second runner up for the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival. Beans is available on home video and distributed in Canada by Mongrel Media.

As runners-up, directors Shasha Nakhai and Rich Williamson (Scarborough) and director Danis Goulet (Night Raiders) each received $5,000 from Rogers Communications. Scarborough is currently in theatres via levelFILM, while Night Raiders is available on home video from Elevation Pictures.

Hosted by ET Canada’s Sangita Patel, the ceremony took place at a gala dinner held March 7, 2022 at The Omni King Edward Hotel in Toronto, with a cocktail reception sponsored by Cineplex Entertainment and a dinner sponsored by Netflix.

“All three nominated films were so strong this year, and I congratulate all four filmmakers,” TFCA President Johanna Schneller said. “But Tracey Deer’s passion shone through every frame of Beans. She lived this story. Recounting it was tough – it took her eight years just to write the script. But she turned her rage and hopelessness into a work that educates, inspires, and heals, a testament to the transformative power of art.”

“Movies like Beans are the reason the Rogers Best Canadian Film Award exists,” said Rogers Vice-Chair, Phil Lind. “At their best, films are an unflinching conversation about who we are, and the events that shaped us. To see the Kanesatake Resistance through the eyes of a child is to humanize history.”

At the gala, Patel and actress Maitreyi Ramakrishnan (Never Have I Ever) introduced video acceptance speeches from director Jane Campion (Best Director, The Power of the Dog), director Ryusuke Hamaguchi (Best Picture, Best Screenplay and Best International Film, Drive My Car), actress Olivia Colman (Best Actress, The Lost Daughter), actor Bradley Cooper (Best Supporting Actor, Licorice Pizza), director Amir “Questlove” Thompson (Allan King Documentary Award winner for Summer of Soul) and director Jonas Poher Rasmussen (Best Animated Feature, Flee), along with some words from actor Denzel Washington (Best Actor, The Tragedy of Macbeth). Watch their videos below!

Cameron Bailey, TIFF CEO, presented Two-Spirited L’nu director Bretten Hannam (Wildhood) with the $10,000 Stella Artois Jay Scott Prize for an emerging artist. Hannam made their feature directorial debut with North Mountain (2015). Their acclaimed follow-up feature, Wildhood, about a runaway seeking their Mi’kmaw birth-mother, opens in theatres this week and is nominated for six Canadian Screen Awards.

In its mission to recognize new voices in film criticism, the TFCA gave Rachel Ho the third annual TFCA Emerging Critic Award, presented by Canadian comedy legend Rick Mercer. Ho is a practicing lawyer who has pivoted to a new career as a movie reviewer.

On the red carpet, entertainment journalist and Super Channel content producer Teri Hart welcomed eminent members of the film industry and the civic and cultural communities, including David Cronenberg, recipient of this year’s Company 3 Clyde Gilmour Award. The award comes with a pay-it-forward grant of $50,000 in production services to a filmmaker of the award recipient’s choice. Cronenberg’s choice is to be announced. Veteran filmmaker Don McKellar (Last Night, Through Black Spruce) presented the award.

Other notables in attendance included singer-songwriter Serena Ryder, directors Patricia Rozema, Nick de Pencier and Clement Virgo, Elevation Pictures co-founders and co-presidents Laurie May and Noah Segal, Company 3 VP and GM James Fraser, Cineplex Entertainment President/CEO Ellis Jacob, George Brown College President Dr. Gervan Fearon, and Dori Tunstall, the Dean of the Faculty of Design at OCAD University.

The TFCA is extremely grateful to founding sponsor Rogers Communications for the Rogers Best Canadian Film Award, to returning sponsors Labatt for the Stella Artois Jay Scott Prize for an emerging artist, and to Cineplex Entertainment for the awards cocktail reception. The TFCA welcomes new sponsor Netflix as the official dinner sponsor and Company 3 for the Company 3 Clyde Gilmour Award. The TFCA also thanks sponsors The Omni King Edward Hotel and G.H. Mumm Champagne, and salutes stalwart supporters Zoomer Magazine, Chairman Mills and TAXI Toronto. The TFCA is grateful to AV-Canada, L-Eat Catering, Reel Medics in Motion, Sarah Melissa Designs and The Printing House.