Takes place in the days before Christmas near a little-known border crossing on the Mohawk reservation between New York State and Quebec. Here, the lure of fast money from smuggling ... See full summary »
Takes place in the days before Christmas near a little-known border crossing on the Mohawk reservation between New York State and Quebec. Here, the lure of fast money from smuggling presents a daily challenge to single moms who would otherwise be earning minimum wage. Two women - one white, one Mohawk, both single mothers faced with desperate circumstances - are drawn into the world of border smuggling across the frozen water of the St. Lawrence River. Ray and Lila - and a New York State Trooper as opponent in an evolving cat-and-mouse game. Written by
Fantastic Film - and a rare glimpse into the reality of life in Indian Country
I caught a viewing of this tonight at the fantastic Traverse City Film Festival. The film was really fantastic. It is an indie flick very reminiscent of David Gordon Green's work (George Washington, All the Real Girls, etc) in pacing, cinematography, and the depth of character the director is able to elicit with profound minimalism. The plot centers around a Mohawk coyote who smuggles illegals across the St. Lawrence in the winter by driving back and forth between the Canadian and US segments of the Mohawk Reservation. The Mohawk are one of the few tribes that issue their own passports and directly challenge federal authority to regulate their border. Because the reservation covers areas in both nations there isn't much either side can do. For the Mohawk, sovereignty has real meaning, and they protect it fiercely.
The main character (aside from the Mohawk woman) is a white woman living in the area who's husband is a degenerate gambler and has taken off with the money she had saved to get them a new modular home. We never meet him, but nevertheless are given a good portrait of his and the family's struggles with his addiction. She needs $4k fast, stumbles into this smuggling business quite unexpectedly and decides its her only hope to avoid homelessness for herself and two kids. It's suspenseful, introspective, and the acting is top notch by everyone. I also loved how it provided a glimpse into one part of Indian Country few people even know exists, and treats the Indians as people rather than victims or otherwise attempts to cajole the audience into feeling something for them. They are just people. Just like us.
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