Director: Alanis Obomsawin
Kanehsatake: 270 Years Of Resistance (Winner of Best Canadian Feature Award 1993 Toronto Film Festival) provides searing images for the standoff between the Mohawks of Kanehsatake and the forces of the Quebec police and Canadian Army. Director Alanis Obomsawin was the only filmmaker to stay behind the barricades for the full length of the siege, and she provides a compelling, comprehensive review of the cataclysmic events of the summer of 1990.
It all began with a golf course. Citizens of Oka, a town just outside of Montreal, first began playing golf on expropriated Mohawk land in the 1930s. When plans were made in 1990 to expand the course to eighteen holes, the Mohawk community resisted. Surete de Quebec (police) were called in, and Mohawks in nearby areas blockaded Montreal's huge Mercier Bridge in solidarity. One Surete officer was killed, the army was sent in and both sides settled in for a long, hot summer of tension and violence.
The Mohawk Warriors and their supporters, who stuck it out despite the army barricade, display the absolute conviction of people pushed beyond their limit. Asked how far she's willing to go to defend their land, one woman says firmly, "six feet under."
It cost the federal government more than one hundred and fifty-five million dollars to turn Kanehsatake into a war zone. Obomsawin sheds light on all the contours of that terrain with a keen eye for what's important, and a strength that comes from absolute compassion.
- Cameron Bailey, Toronto Film Festival