‘The Grizzlies’ a powerful true story of hope and determination, in cinemas 18 March

‘The Grizzlies’ is a powerful award-winning feature-length film based on a real-life story. A class of Indigenous Inuit high school students living in the arctic township of Kugluktuk in Canada overcome their daily struggles inspired by the tenacity of a rookie History teacher from the south, Russ Shepherd, who turns the humble Lacrosse stick into a symbol of hope.

With a genuine vision to nurture his students dreams for a better future, Shepherd trains the group (in the snow) to play the sport Lacrosse then signs them up for the Canadian National Lacrosse Championships in Toronto, which in turn motivates improved school attendance and grades.

The Grizzlies, copyright Inspiring Grizzlies Inc, Shane Mahood

Kugluktuk in the Kitikmeot Region of Nunavut is both a strikingly beautiful landscape and a harsh and unrelenting climate. Soon after Shepherd arrives in the village, he is shaken from his own reality by what he sees in the township’s youth night-culture, his students. He bears witness to issues of poverty, drug and alcohol problems, physical abuse in families, despair, suicide and deep-felt grief. Nunavut is a community of approximately 33,000 people heavily burdened with the highest rate of youth suicide in North America.

Concerned for his students, their lives and their schooling, Shepherd is compelled to find a way to make change. With his own love for the sport Lacrosse, Shepherd ignites a strong sense of team-spirit within his students and together they embark on an emotional journey that is; deeply touched with pain and heartache; breaks through personal and cultural barriers; is fuelled by learning, compassion and understanding; and rewarded with transformation, hope and success.

You won’t be able to walk away from this film without tears in your eyes, a lump in your throat or a tingle down your spine.

The Grizzlies, copyright Inspiring Grizzlies Inc, Shane Mahood

‘What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny compared to what lies within us.’ – Russ Shepherd, The Grizzlies

A paid mentorship program invited Inuit actors, crew, musicians and other creative collaborators to participate in the making of ‘The Grizzlies’ directed by Miranda de Pencier (Anne with an E) in creative collaboration with Inuit producers Alethea Arnaquq-Baril and Stacey Aglok MacDonald. Over 600 youth auditions took place from across 25 communities in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. Around 91 percent of the cast and more than 33 percent of the crew are Inuit or Indigenous peoples.

The cast includes first-time and celebrated actors including Paul Nutarariaq and Anna Lambe who received Canadian Screen Award nominations for their roles in 2019. Tantoo Cardinal plays Janace, Ben Schnetzer plays Russ, Booboo Stewart is in the role of Kyle, Will Sasso playsMike, first-time actor Emerald MacDonald who portrays Miranda gives a stand out performance, first-time actor Ricky Marty-Pahtaykan plays Adam, and Jamie Takkiruq plays Vinny.

From 18 March you can catch this brilliant film at one of the participating cinemas across Australia and New Zealand. Cinemas include Hoyts, Event Cinemas, Reading, Majestic, Limelight and others. Visit the website for more information on ticketing and session times.

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