The disappearance of indigenous girls and women has been on the news for some time now. “Rustic Oracle,” a feature film directed by Mohawk filmmaker Sonia Bonspille Boileau, captures the different facets of this social problem.
When we say “disappearance of indigenous girls and women,” we are not referring to some sort of supernatural event, but to a malaise of our own society: the sexual exploitation of indigenous girls and women. The movie makes that clear.
The movie focuses on the disappearance of Heather (Mckenzie Kahnekaroroks Deer) a teenage girl living with her mother Susan (Carmen Moore) and younger sister Ivy (Lake Kahentawaks Delisle). The story is told from the point of view of eight-year-old Ivy and set in the late 1990s. As a single mother, Susan has some problems with her older child, the young one for her part, suffers from recurrent nightmares and somnambulism.
When Heather disappears, her mother and the young Ivy start their own search for the missing girl. Throughout that hectic journey, they would find some sympathy, but the general attitude is indifference. Even the police officers in charge of the case take it as if missing indigenous girls were a routine occurrence.
The focus on this issue that has claimed national attention is certainly one of the great merits of the film. Director Bonspille Boileau has made a movie that touches a sensitive topic without falling into melodrama. Acting, especially by the young Lake Kahentawaks Delisle is so natural that it creates an immediate connection to the viewer. (The young performer won Best Actress at the American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco, and Best Female Lead at the Dunedin International Film Festival, Florida, for her portrayal of young Ivy.) “Rustic Oracle” had its world premiere at the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) in September 2019. It was officially selected into 14 national and international festivals garnering 26 awards.
Regarding the movie the director has said: “The film aims to ensure that the fear and helplessness that are felt by so many families in this country are not drowned by the politics, the data and the buzzwords. It is easy to forget that each ‘stolen sister’ is exactly that – someone’s sister, daughter, niece, cousin, or best friend.”
The film was shot in the Mohawk territory of Kanesatake and produced by Nish Media. “Rustic Oracle” premieres on VOD – Apple TV, Bell On-Demand, Videotron On Demand and Vimeo On Demand – November 17, 2020.
Running Time: 137 min
Feature image: RUSTIC ORACLE – Susan (Carmen Moore) and her daughter Ivy (Lake Kahentawaks Delisle) in “Rustic Oracle”