Today, the issue of appropriating First Nations and Inuit stories is a major concern in the Canadian cultural landscape. In a recent speech during the TIFF 2018 Canadian Press Conference, THE GRIZZLIES producer Alethea Arnaquq-Baril remembered her first encounters with Miranda and her ambitions to make a film about Inuit experiences, despite being a white filmmaker. “When Miranda first came north to explore the possibility of making this film, my first thought was: Who is this white lady? And who the heck is she to be telling this story? But Miranda started our conversation by asking questions. Stacey Aglok MacDonald, our fellow producer, is also Inuk and from the community where the story takes place. Miranda sat down with Stacey and me and explained that although she was fascinated and inspired by the story, she knew nothing about the Arctic or about Inuit, and needed our help. She always had a million questions, and she kept coming back, for years. And when she made mistakes, we pointed them out, and she listened. Her determination to include our community in the making of the film, at the time, was really not common, and it impressed us.”
Together, this eclectic band of producers (Aglok MacDonald, Arnaquq-Baril, Zanne Devine and de Pencier) and executive producers (Jake Steinfeld and Frank Marshall) spent nearly ten years developing and building talent capacity to realize THE GRIZZLIES in a way that honoured the original spirit of the real-life GRIZZLIES team.
“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.”
Alethea is an Inuit filmmaker from the Canadian arctic where she has run Unikkaat Studios Inc. since 2005. Alethea directed and produced the award-winning Angry Inuk(Unikkaat/NFB co-production in association with EyeSteelFilm) a feature documentary for broadcast on Superchannel and CBC. Angry Inuk premiered at Hot Docs taking home the Audience Choice Award, was selected as one of the TIFF Canada’s Top Ten for 2016. In 2016, Alethea was presented with the Meritorious Service Cross by the Governor General of Canada, having been nominated for contributions to the arts and the craft of documentary filmmaking. Also in 2016, Alethea was bestowed the “DOC Vanguard Award” by the DOC Institute, for “a keen artistic sensibility and forward-thinking approach to the craft, with the potential to lead the next generation of doc-makers.”
Stacey Aglok MacDonald
Stacey Aglok is originally from Kugluktuk, Nunavut. She is a writer, producer & director of the groundbreaking Inuktitut comedy series, QANURLI, now in its seventh season. The series is broadcast on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network. Founder of Puhitaq and President of Qanukiaq Studios Inc. Stacey is one of Nunavut’s leading television producers today. Previously she worked with the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation writing and producing a number of their Inuktitut language documentary series broadcast on APTN, including ILINIQ and one season of the current events live call in show, QANUQ ISUMAVIT.
Miranda de Pencier
Award-winning producer and director Miranda de Pencier is the founder of Northwood Entertainment, an independent film and television production company formed with a mission to create a thriving home for filmmakers with singular voices to reach broad audiences. Her credits include: ANNE WITH AN E (winner of 2018 Canadian Screen Award for Best Drama Series in Season 1 and winner of 7 CSAs for Season 2 including Best Drama Series ) currently streaming in 191 countries on Netflix and airing on the CBC and filming Season 3, THANKS FOR SHARING written and directed by Academy Award nominee Stuart Blumberg (THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT) and starring Mark Ruffalo, Gwyneth Paltrow and the international pop star Pink; BEGINNERS, directed by Mike Mills and starring Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer (2012 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor); ADAM starring Hugh Dancy and Rose Byrne, and PU-239 for HBO, and executive produced by George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh. Prior to producing, de Pencier was the Director of Development for Robert Redford’s Wildwood Enterprises, where she was involved in developing several projects including THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES and SPY GAME. de Pencier made her feature film directorial debut with THE GRIZZLIES, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2018 and for which she was awarded the Director’s Guild of Canada Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in a Feature Film. THE GRIZZLIES is currently nominated for a Writer’s Guild of Canada Award and recently won the Canadian Screen Award for Best Original Song, Audience Award at the Palm Springs Film Festival, Italy’s Fabrique Award for Best International Film, and was a finalist for the prestigious Humanitas Prize. Her first film as a director, THROAT SONG, which she also wrote, premiered at TIFF and won numerous awards including the CSA for Best Live Action Short Drama.
Devine is a seasoned industry professional who has produced and executive produced over a dozen feature films including: EASY A, starring Emma Stone; CINEMA VERITE starring Diane Lane, James Gandolfini, and Tim Robbins; A LOT LIKE LOVE starring Ashton Kutcher; and THE GUARDIAN starring Kevin Costner. Sheʼs also the former Head of Film & Television at Miramax. Under her leadership, Devine revitalized the studio and the companyʼs pipeline grew to feature a number of pedigree-rich film and television projects: the Academy Award® and Golden Globe® winning I, TONYA; WHITNEY, the Grammy Award® winning documentary from Oscar® winning filmmaker Kevin Macdonald about pop icon Whitney Houston; recent blockbuster reboot of HALLOWEʼEN in partnership with Blumhouse; CITY OF LIES, starring Johnny Depp and Academy Award® winner Forest Whitaker about the investigation into the Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G. murders; BRIDGET JONESʼS BABY starring Academy Award winners Renee Zellweger and Colin Firth; and SOUTHSIDE WITH YOU, the film that chronicles the summer Michelle and Barack Obama first met. On the television front, Devine oversaw three seasons of “From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series” from maverick filmmaker Robert Rodriguez.
Damon DʼOliveiraʼs films have been distributed internationally and have been selected for festivals around the world. Damonʼs recent miniseries adaptation of THE BOOK OF NEGROES, the best-selling novel by Lawrence Hill (Commonwealth Writerʼs & Canada Reads Prizewinner) had its world premiere as the Opening Night Selection at MIPCOM in October 2014. The series debuted to historic ratings on the Canadian Broadcasting Network (CBC) in January 2015, marking a twenty-five year high for a one-hour drama premiere. Its US premiere also drew landmark ratings for BET Networks. THE BOOK OF NEGROES stars Oscar-winners©, Cuba Gooding Jr. & Louis Gossett Jr., along with Aunjanue Ellis (Quantico, The Help) and 3-time Oscar© nominee – Jane Alexander.
Jake "Body by Jake®" Steinfeld is the fitness industry's reigning icon - creating the personal fitness training industry over 38 years ago, Jake has been the guiding light for health & wellness in lifestyle, sports, and entertainment ever since. Utilizing his entrepreneurial street-smarts and fitness knowledge, Jake created the first 24-hour fitness lifestyle network, FiTTV®, which he later sold to News Corp.® Following the sale of FiTTV, Jake launched another multi-media innovation, ExerciseTV®, the first On-Demand fitness television network with partners Comcast® and Time Warner®. Jake's business acumen extended to the world of sports through his founding of Major League Lacrosse®, the nation's first professional outdoor lacrosse league. Jakeʼs newest lacrosse venture is the Warrior World Series of Youth Lacrosse presented by the Coca- Cola Company and Nissan which provides (U13) youth players the ultimate lacrosse experience. Jake was chosen to be an official Olympic torchbearer, one of only 22 Americans selected to carry the inspirational flame for the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England.
With a career spanning almost 50 years and over 80 films, Frank Marshall has helped shape American cinema, producing some of the most successful and enduring films of all time. Credits include: BOURNE GREMLINS, BACK TO THE FUTURE trilogy, WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT?, HOOK, EMPIRE OF THE SUN, INDIANA JONES trilogy, SIGNS, WAR HORSE, and all four films in the BOURNE series. Currently, his productions include the summer blockbuster JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM, the Emmy nominated documentary WHAT HAUNTS US, and the finishing of Orson Welles final film, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FILM. Marshall has 5 Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, including RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, THE COLOR PURPLE, THE SIXTH SENSE, SEABISCUIT, and THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON.
Feature film credits include BROKEN ARROW, starring John Travolta, HARD RAIN, MISSION TO MARS and THE LAST CASTLE. As a producer, Yost won Emmy® and Golden Globe® Awards for the HBO miniseries FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON. Yost later wrote/co-wrote two installments of the Golden Globe® and Emmy® Award-winning HBO miniseries BAND OF BROTHERS. Yost was an Executive Producer on the FX series THE AMERICANS, the critically-lauded spy drama created by Joe Weisberg. Yost was the showrunner on JUSTIFIED, the Sony-produced series on FX, starring Timothy Olyphant, based on a character created by Americaʼs pre-eminent crime novelist Elmore Leonard. He was also the showrunner on the first two seasons of SNEAKY PETE for Amazon. Starring Giovanni Ribisi, Margo Martindale, and Marin Ireland, the show was created by David Shore and Bryan Cranston. Yost is currently nominated for a Writer’s Guild of Canada award and nominated for the Humanitas Prize for his work on THE GRIZZLIES.
Moira Walley-Beckett is a multiple award-winning screenwriter. She is currently the Series Creator, Showrunner, and Executive Producer of the of the ongoing, critically acclaimed original CBC/NETFLIX drama “Anne with an E”, which was recently nominated for fifteen 2019 CANADIAN SCREEN AWARDS and, in 2018, was nominated for 13 CSA’s and won BEST DRAMA SERIES. Recently, the series was nominated for three ACTRA AWARDS with Outstanding Performance in a Lead Role going to actress Amybeth McNulty. Moira received a 2018 WGC award for writing ‘Anne with an E.’
Moira also created “Flesh and Bone,” a critically acclaimed Limited Series for STARZ. The drama received multiple nominations (including a GOLDEN GLOBE and a WGA nod) and won a SATELLITE AWARD, a GRACIE AWARD, and a WOMEN’S IMAGE (WIN) Award.
Before creating “Flesh and Bone,” Moira spent six years as a writer and Co-Executive Producer on the critically acclaimed AMC series “Breaking Bad.” For her work on that show, Moira has won a total of three EMMY AWARDS, three WRITERS’ GUILD AWARDS, three AFI AWARDS, three SATURN AWARDS, two PGA AWARDS, a GOLDEN GLOBE, a PEABODY, and received a PEN LITERARY AWARD nomination.
In 2014, Ms. Walley-Beckett received an EMMY AWARD for OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A DRAMA SERIES for her final “Breaking Bad” episode entitled “Ozymandias.”
Before her tenure as a writer on “Breaking Bad,” Ms. Walley-Beckett wrote on the NBC dramas “Raines” and “Eli Stone,” and “Pan Am” for ABC.
Currently, Moira’s feature film, The Grizzlies, is about to have its theatrical release in Canada in April 2019.
Moira is currently in production of Season 3 on ANNE WITH AN E, which shoots in Ontario.