The Grizzlies

2018 | Drama | 102 minutes | English and Inuktitut with English subtitles


Russ Sheppard takes a teaching job in a remote Arctic school to pay off his college debt to the Canadian government. It’s a community with the highest suicide rate in North America. Russ plans to fulfill his obligations and then move on to a teaching job in a more affluent school. Russ finds things tough as the Inuit students consider him a “white” man. They mistrust him.  Russ also realizes to get through to the students he has to understand their culture. The Inuits are poor, hungry, and find solace in heavy drinking. Russ, with the help of Miranda, his brightest student, feels certain  the way these students can survive is to participate in a competitive team sport like lacrosse. Initially, the students resist. They are too busy hunting for food and being saddled with  family obligations. Russ forces them to make the time to learn and play the game. They become so proficient, they are invited to a national tournament in Toronto. The teenagers are elated. For the first time they feel their lives have meaning. Russ now has to decide: should he take a cushy job at an elite prep school or stay with the Inuits, people he has grown to love?   
Ben Schnetzer (Russ Sheppard) / Emerald MacDonald (Miranda Atatahak)
Why Stream This Film?
Based on a true story, the film portrays a remote Arctic community with the highest suicide rate in North America. A young  teacher arrives and is determined that the way the teenagers can survive is to have them participate in the competitive sport of lacrosse. The Grizzlies is an eye-opener of how  hopeless, desperate Inuit teenagers learn the meaning of optimism and survival. 
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 85%
  • Metacritic Score: 69
  • Directors Guild of Canada: Winner, Best Feature Film
  • Palm Springs International Film Festival: Winner, Best Narrative Film
  • Toronto International Film Festival: Nominated, Best Director (Miranda de Pencier)
A group of underappreciated teens in the Arctic find solace in sports, bringing hope and healing to a marginalized community in this rousing, heartfelt feature. There’s a fervent, fiery emotional drive propelling this true-life tale of a teacher who inspired his underdog students to take up their lacrosse sticks,  overcome unrelenting sorrow and thus unite an unsung community.
Courtney Howard


Miranda de Pencier,  an experienced producer, directing her first feature, is a Canadian with a deep appreciation for the landscapes and a sincere respect for its original residents. She shows us that bleakness is the result of pain and loss of a sense of identity.
Nell Minow

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