Dawson student stars in Rustic Oracle
Cinema | Communications student McKenzie Deer Robinson had been interested in acting since she was a kid.
“I was always too shy,” she recalled in an interview with the Communications Office. When she was 16 years old, her mother noticed a call for auditions at the local bank in Kahnawake. “We both thought that maybe this would be my opportunity to try it,” she said.
Learning on set
McKenzie ended up getting a part in the film Rustic Oracle, which was shot in the summer of 2018 and is streaming now on Amazon Prime, Apple TV and other streaming services. “I learned basically everything about acting from this experience,” the 19-year-old said. “I learned how to understand what the lines meant and how to take direction. I learned the basics of acting and I continue to grow in my acting.”
The film tells the story of an eight-year-old girl named Ivy whose big sister, Heather, vanishes from their small Mohawk community. McKenzie plays the role of Heather and was directed by Sonia Bonspille Boileau, the writer and director of the film, which has won several awards.
Filmmaker’s thoughts on McKenzie’s character
“In 1996, like Heather in Rustic Oracle, I was 16 years old and living in Kanehsatake,” Sonia wrote in the director’s statement on the film’s website. “I flirted with the idea of leaving home and like Heather, hung around the wrong crowd in my search to fit in. This story could’ve been about my family and I. While Rustic Oracle may not be based on a true story, what happens to Heather is similar to so many stories in our communities. Luckily, I did not become a statistic.
“Today we are constantly made aware of the startling numbers associated with the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and in many ways; I hope that my film sheds light on this social injustice that continues to persist today.”
Film needs to be seen
McKenzie believes the film needs to be seen because the issue itself isn’t talked about much. “We tend to forget about the people who have gone through this,” she said. “The film resonates with me because as an Indigenous woman myself, I hear a lot about the issue and it’s heartbreaking.”
McKenzie enjoyed working with Sonia to bring her character to life. She is interested in directing in the future and really appreciated watching what was going on behind the camera.
McKenzie now has an agent and has done some photo shoots and commercials. The pandemic interrupted things, but she is open to auditioning again and hoping to do some onscreen work in the near future.
Cinema | Communications courses help McKenzie see movies differently
For now, her focus is on school. The Cinema | Communications courses at Dawson “helped me know more about cinema and the history of cinema. I like how I am able to watch movies differently now and understand the camera movements, angles and meaning,” the second-year Cin | Comm student said.
McKenzie’s dream is to continue acting. She would like to continue developing her acting techniques until she feels ready to pursue studies in film production.
“My goal is to inspire other Indigenous youth,” she said. “We need more actors, storytellers, artists known in this world. …I just want anyone to know that you can do whatever you desire, even if no one believes in you, despite your age. As long as you are confident in yourself, you can do anything!”
Film summary from IMDb:
Set in the late 90s, Rustic Oracle is a dramatic feature about Ivy, an 8-year-old girl trying to understand what happened to her big sister who has vanished from their small Mohawk community. With minimal clues, Ivy and her mother Susan embark on an unwelcome journey to find Heather, which will ultimately bring the pair closer together despite challenging circumstances. Behind the story of desperation, told through the eyes of a child, lies one of hope, growth, awakening and love.
Rustic Oracle official website: http://filmrusticoracle.com/