Eric “Dirt” McComber is home and happy to be back where he’s comfortable, cutting up a deer in his back yard away from the glitz and glamour of the film festival circuit. (Lachlan Madill, The Eastern Door)
Since it was released this summer, the movie Dirt McComber: Last of the Mohicans, has been screened at film festivals across North America.
The documentary is about Kahnawake’s very own Eric “Dirt” McComber, his work, his family and lacrosse. The first screening of the movie was in August and since then it’s been getting very positive reviews.
“We had our premiere at the Indigenous People’s Festival in Montreal and we didn’t realize that there were a bunch of people there who were looking for films for their various film festivals and policy-making institutes,” said Joanne Storkan, the director and executive producer.
Some of those people in the audience were from Europe and are buying the rights for the movie to be shown on European TV. That means that the film will be shown to an even larger audience on the other side of the ocean.
Storkan said that they are still finalizing details and expect the contract will be signed soon.
“That will be huge because that will be all over Europe. We’re still working on Canadian and United States distribution, but we’re moving along,” she said.
The documentary has been screened at festivals all over the United States in the past few months in Denver, Oregon, Santa Fe and most recently in Los Angeles where it was shown for the Red Nation Film Festival.
Part of being the star of the movie means travelling to the festivals as well. Dirt has been busy helping to promote it and meeting people. The new star says fame hasn’t changed him.
“We were in Warm Springs Oregon and we met Paiutes, the Wasco tribe and that was pretty good. I was in Beverly Hills last week and over there it was 80 degrees,” said McComber.
Home in his backyard butchering a deer, he said nothing has changed, despite the publicity of being in movie that’s all about him and going to places like Hollywood.
“It’s really different for me but with all that’s happening to me I’m still the same guy,” he said.
He said he gets to go to different places that he said he would probably never have gone to if it wasn’t for the film. While he enjoys it, he said he’s always glad to be back home and working.
“I just go with it, I guess. I have no control over it, they invite me to go places and you know,” said McComber.
McComber said he is like a fish out of water with the Hollywood types, but said he always gets to meet Indigenous people from different parts of the continent when he travels.
“It takes me to parts unknown, but it doesn’t bother me. Wherever we go we’re really welcomed and that’s pretty cool,” he said.
His producer said that she takes him into consideration when they’re promoting the movie.
“Every time I apply for a film festival I make sure that there’s Native communities around. For Dirt it’s not just something, really; he doesn’t want to go just to a film festival. Every time we go to a festival he wants to meet Native people in the area,” said Storkan.
She said that it was no different in Los Angeles when they were there.
“Dirt made some contacts for commerce, that’s what he calls it. He wants to do Native commerce, that’s his thing. He wants to find another ‘Dirt’ on every reservation or reserve and he wants to start doing Native commerce among Native culture and doing some unifying things. So that’s his big motivation,” said Storkan.
“I would actually like to expand on what I’m doing in a way that would help First Nation communities,” said McComber.
His future aspirations have nothing to do with being a movie star. “My goal is to go and promote other First Nations. If you’re a hunter or fisherman, I would go up to your rez and say, “I make custom-made gill nets.” I’m invited all over to hunt and fish and I want to explain to them that you can’t run away from your identity.”
Which is what the movie is all about. While he’s out meeting people, networking and making contacts, there is also a movie to promote. It has been getting great reviews and feedback from people who’ve had the chance to see it.
“Dirt’s a hard-working man and I think all people can appreciate how hard he works. When they see what he has to do to provide for his family and to live the way he does….. I think people from all cultures, they are just very inspired by that,” said Storkan.
“All in all, people seem to enjoy it,” he said. “Everywhere I go I’m trying to get people to understand that you can put a coat on to change your looks and appearance but you take that off, you should be the same thing. ”
Coat or not, McComber will always be the same, but also hopes that people like the film and learn something about being a Mohawk.
“If something comes out of it that’s fine because at the end of the day I’m still going to do what I’m doing. It’s not going to change the fact that deer, moose, and caribou don’t undress themselves,” he said.
“Wherever it goes, that’s up to my producers…that’s up to them,” McComber paused and laughed. “My producers… who the f&#* do I think I am? I’m happy here standing on frozen ground!”