The crowd gathered in the auditorium at the Brooklyn Museum on July 2 cheered and groaned when the Salmon River Shamrocks won and lost while they watched Keepers of the Game, a lacrosse documentary, unfold on the big screen.
The documentary follows a group of Mohawk high school female athletes trying to start a lacrosse team off their Akwesasne reservation at a public school, and the rifts that creates in their community.
“Our leaders say girls don’t play lacrosse, how do you uphold that when your daughter is playing the game?” asks Mohawk Clan Mother Louise Herne in the film. Her daughter Tsieboo, the team’s captain, struggles with suicide and living in two worlds, but it is lacrosse and her culture that helps her overcome.
The movie not only moved the crowd emotionally, it inspired some. A young girl from the audience came up to a microphone during the Q&A after the movie and asked Tsieboo: “Should I start [playing lacrosse] now or in high school?”
“Pick up a stick right now, and don’t ever put it down,” Tsieboo told the girl.
Tsieboo and Louise were asked what it was like to let Judd Ehrlich, the documentary’s director and an outsider, into their homes and lives. Louise said she wasn’t interested at first. “We’re so guarded and careful,” Louise told the audience.
“It’s about who we are, so maybe it won’t be misinterpreted,” was what ran through Tsieboo’s mind when they were first approached by Judd. “And we weren’t.”
Courtesy Brooklyn Museum/Brittney Najar
Documentary director Judd Ehrlich, Tsieboo Herne, and her mother Louise Herne not visible in image) answer questions from the audience after the film.
But, is it hard for her to see herself going through so much on the big screen?
“Watching it feels better because other people need to heal,” Tsieboo said.
Ehrlich said he’s working on getting the movie in more schools, and it’s been chosen as part of the 2016-17 American Film Showcase, a film diplomacy program of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The chosen films are screened as part of cultural programming around the world. The film is also being shown as part of the Tribeca Film Festival.
For more information about Keepers of the Game, visit the Flatbush Pictures Facebook page.