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THE GRIZZLIES now on 53 screens across Canada!

by pmnationtalk on May 8, 201955 Views

THE GRIZZLIES
now on 53 screens across Canada!

An online link is available for review/interview purposes.

Based on a true story, Miranda de Pencier’s The Grizzlies is an inspirational drama about a group of Inuit students in the Arctic where, in 2004, suicide rates were the highest in North America. When rookie teacher Russ Sheppard (Ben Schnetzer) arrives in the small Nunavut town of Kugluktuk, he’s culturally unaware of the Inuit ways. The students are also suspicious of him.  But, upon embracing the sport of lacrosse, the teens evoke change in the teacher, themselves and the community.

Along with de Pencier, The Grizzlies has two Inuit producers from Nunavut: Alethea Arnaquq-Baril (Angry Inuk), and Stacey Aglok MacDonald, who grew up in Kugluktuk. Stacey’s sister Emerald MacDonald, a first-time actor, plays Miranda Atatahak, a shy student who gives Russ Sheppard some wise advice.

“Seeing the movie come to life has been a surreal experience; it brings me back to all of the things that our community experienced and shared,” says Aglok MacDonald. “People from home, and I’m sure all over the world, will be able to connect with this story — I know that Inuit from Kugluktuk and from across the Arctic will see a lot of themselves and their experiences reflected in the film. They know what it feels like. In Kugluktuk we had The Grizzlies, but in Pangnirtung, it might have been music programs, in Arviat it was a youth film society. All of our communities have had these beautiful stories of how it took just one spark and a few committed people and youth to inspire a town and change lives.”

The film was nine years in the making and shot almost entirely in Nunavut, with over 600 youth from the Arctic participated in workshops both for traditional art forms and for acting, even before they auditioned for roles. But what was truly spectacular about the production was the commitment by the producers of The Grizzlies to create an environment of collaboration between the south and the north – Inuit and non-Inuit – and also to ensure an atmosphere of inclusion and respect in the depiction of this true story.

As part of this commitment, the producers of The Grizzlies created a paid mentorship program that enabled Inuit crew, Inuit and Indigenous actors, Inuit and Indigenous musicians, and Inuit creative collaborators to work on the film in each and every department. The Grizzlies provided a training ground for future Inuit and Indigenous filmmakers with more than 91 per cent of our cast and more than 33 per cent of our crew being Inuit or Indigenous.

Two of the Inuit actors were nominated for 2019 Canadian Screen Awards – lead actor Paul Nutarariaq and supporting actress Anna Lambe, who is a first time actor, both of whom play students. The actors have experienced many of the same challenges as their characters, bringing a level of authenticity and sensitivity to the screen.

The Grizzlies also stars veteran Tantoo Cardinal as the beleaguered high school principal, comedian Will Sasso in a dramatic turn as a burnt-out teacher, and Twilight star Booboo Stewart as a natural athlete lacking confidence. The film features original music by Indigenous hip hop artists, including 2019 Canadian Screen Award winners Dan General (DJ Shub), Thomas Lambe (666God), Adam Tanuyak (Hyper-T) for their song “Trials.” The Grizzlies also won de Pencier the Directors Guild of Canada Award and the Audience Awards in several cities as well as a nomination from the Writers Guild of Canada.

The film marks the feature directorial debut of Toronto’s Miranda de Pencier (producer of CSA-Best Series winner Anne with an E).  Script is by Emmy winners Graham Yost and Moira Walley-Beckett, from a story by Yost.

The Grizzlies is released in Canada by Mongrel Media.

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Press contact: Kim Wheeler Tel: 204-391-5830  email: kimage.wheeler@gmail.com

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