Deer Woman

Her name is Lila, and she’s a proud Blackfoot woman, she tells us. Making a video to explain herself to her partner, or anyone else watching, she confirms that she knows what she’s going to do is illegal. But that’s not the same as being wrong. Lila knows that to find her younger sister’s killer and just let them "walk away" is wrong, and (as a former soldier, never "untrained") she knows what to do.

Tara Beagan’s characterful monologue is performed with real heart, subtlety and intensity by Cherish Violet Blood,

Tara Beagan’s characterful monologue, performed with real heart, subtlety and intensity by Cherish Violet Blood, is the story of a woman seeking vengeance for the brutal murder of her younger sister, just one of thousands of Indigenous women recorded as missing or killed in Canada during the last few decades. The staging is pretty basic: just Blood, her smart-phone on a tripod, and two large screens behind her, onto which the camera’s view is projected. Except, under Andy Moro's uncluttered direction, these images are frequently manipulated and enhanced, yet never at the expense of distracting us from Blood's truthful performance.

To explain herself fully, Lila tells the camera, and us, about her life, growing up in a trailer park, impoverished and all-too-often abused or molested by men. Thanks to Blood's low-key intensity, these dark moments hit home hard, as they rightly should, but are given their impact as much by the wider context of her childhood, becoming protective of her younger sister "Hammy", and bonding with her otherwise uncommunicative father during the first of several hunting trips to kill deer. Lila now believes, spiritually, she’s part deer. "Do you see my antlers?", she challenges the world.

A cynic might suggest that Beagan’s script veers too much towards diversity and cliché; soldier Lila’s a lesbian, while her favourite “Aunt” was her mother’s gay hairdresser brother Gary. But Blood's performance gives Lila’s world real depth and validity, and offers a climax that just touches the right level of horror and validation. This is by no means the middle-class-targeted "pain porn" which Lila mocks at earlier: it’s life, sharp as her knife.

Reviews by Paul Fisher Cockburn


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The Blurb

'My name is Lila and I am a proud Blackfoot woman. What I am doing is illegal.' So begins Deer Woman, a solo warrior-woman work of righteous vengeance. Presented by Indigenous Contemporary Scene, ARTICLE 11's Deer Woman is a comedic-dramatic thriller about one of 1,600 officially recognised missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada. Lila, the missing girl’s sister, is a skilled hunter and a veteran of war – watch as she creates the perfect opportunity to avenge her sister’s murder.

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