Five years ago today was the release of The Grizzlies, a film based on a true story about a lacrosse team formed to combat the issue of youth suicide in the town with the highest suicide rate in North America. A truly touching story which found huge critical acclaim, The Grizzlies was created by the incredible Miranda de Pencier.
Miranda de Pencier is a Canadian filmmaker who began her career as an actor, starting out in the industry in her teens. Most notably, Miranda played Josie Pye in the 1985 made-for-television Anne of Green Gables. She also performed on stage, appearing in professional Canadian productions Les Misérables and Aspects of Love.
In the late 90s, already familiar with the stage, Miranda began producing for theater, and then moved on to film production. Soon after she began producing, Miranda formed her own production company, Northwood Entertainment. It was with Northwood Entertainment that she produced Cake (2005), a romantic comedy directed by Nisha Ganatra and starring Heather Graham as a young travel writer who must save her father’s wedding magazine after he suffers from a heart attack.
Since Cake, Miranda has produced multiple exciting films and TV series, including Thanks for Sharing (2012), starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Mark Ruffalo, and the recent Netflix series Anne with an E (a fun callback to her early acting days).
So much more than a sports film, The Grizzlies is a truly profound exploration of what it means to find strength and unity in the face of difficult times, as well as a beautiful celebration of Inuit life and culture.
Miranda’s first feature film was The Grizzlies (2018), which debuted at the 2018 Toronto Film Festival. The film tells the true story of a group of Inuit kids in Kugluktuk, Nunavut, who learned to connect with each other and come together. So much more than a sports film, The Grizzlies is a truly profound exploration of what it means to find strength and unity in the face of difficult times, as well as a beautiful celebration of Inuit life and culture.
FF2 Contributor Giorgi Plys-Garzotto sat down with Miranda to discuss The Grizzlies. Describing her experience making the film, Miranda unpacked the ways in which she was inspired by her actors throughout the process, especially approaching the subject matter as a non-indigenous person: “[It] wasn’t a traditional directing experience where I would command and people would listen, it was more an exchange. It was constantly asking questions, it was constantly sharing drafts, it was constantly writing and rebuilding and bringing in more partners to make sure it was representative of these kids’ original stories.”
Miranda is the type of person who finds strength as an artist through her profound inspiration from the world—and most especially the people—around her. Though she has created her own production company and been a part of many successful projects, she remains humble, letting her art flow from her subjects and cast and crew as much as from herself. Her warm and open approach to her first film, The Grizzlies, inspires hope for the future.
© Julia Lasker (7/31/2023) FF2 Media
LEARN MORE/DO MORE
Read Giorgi Plys-Garzotto’s interview with Miranda here.
Learn more about The Grizzlies here.
CREDITS & PERMISSIONS
Featured Photo: Miranda de Pencier in Toronto at the 2019 Canadian Screen Awards. (3/31/19) Alamy 2DNHYXD
Middle & Bottom photos by Blake Hannahson. Courtesy of Mongrel Media. All Rights Reserved.