THE GRIZZLIES – Review by Jennifer Merin

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Canadian filmmaker Miranda de Pencier’s The Grizzlies, a truth-based sports narrative set in the Canadian arctic, is a story centered around the experiences of a recently graduated White teacher, Russ, working his first job as a high school history teacher in the isolated Inuit town of Kuluktuk, where the hardships of life far exceed its joys.

Russ (Ben Schnetzer), who intends to spend a year in Kuluktuk before returning to ‘the South’ to take a cushy job at a posh private school, is shocked by the level of despair he encounters in the community which is impoverished to the point of starvation, and where alcoholism is a rampant problem and the suicide rate — especially among teenagers — is sky high. He figures its his job to inspire and instill discipline in his students to better their lives.

Russ must reach the kids to teach the kids, but they want nothing he has to offer and continually make fun of him for his lack of knowledge about their lives, their culture, their community. The kids are tough and troubled, many of them struggling for survival in dysfunctional families struggling against desperate circumstances. In fact, the entire community — the school kids, their families and other townspeople — resent and resist any White presence in their midst. They are intent upon protecting their culture and preserving their traditional way of life, both of which have been undermined for centuries by systemic abuse, exploitation and neglect by the White Canadian government. Continue reading on CINEMA CITIZEN.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Grizzlies is AWFJ’s Movie of the Week for August 14, 2020

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Jennifer Merin

Jennifer Merin is the Film Critic for Womens eNews and contributes the CINEMA CITIZEN blog for and is managing editor for Women on Film, the online magazine of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, of which she is President. She has served as a regular critic and film-related interviewer for The New York Press and She has written about entertainment for USA Today, The L.A. Times, US Magazine, Ms. Magazine, Endless Vacation Magazine, Daily News, New York Post, SoHo News and other publications. After receiving her MFA from Tisch School of the Arts (Grad Acting), Jennifer performed at the O'Neill Theater Center's Playwrights Conference, Long Wharf Theater, American Place Theatre and LaMamma, where she worked with renown Japanese director, Shuji Terayama. She subsequently joined Terayama's theater company in Tokyo, where she also acted in films. Her journalism career began when she was asked to write about Terayama for The Drama Review. She became a regular contributor to the Christian Science Monitor after writing an article about Marketta Kimbrell's Theater For The Forgotten, with which she was performing at the time. She was an O'Neill Theater Center National Critics' Institute Fellow, and then became the institute's Coordinator. While teaching at the Universities of Wisconsin and Rhode Island, she wrote "A Directory of Festivals of Theater, Dance and Folklore Around the World," published by the International Theater Institute. Denmark's Odin Teatret's director, Eugenio Barba, wrote his manifesto in the form of a letter to "Dear Jennifer Merin," which has been published around the world, in languages as diverse as Farsi and Romanian. Jennifer's culturally-oriented travel column began in the LA Times in 1984, then moved to The Associated Press, LA Times Syndicate, Tribune Media, Creators Syndicate and (currently) Arcamax Publishing. She's been news writer/editor for ABC Radio Networks, on-air reporter for NBC, CBS Radio and, currently, for Westwood One's America In the Morning. She is a member of the Critics Choice Association in the Film, Documentary and TV branches and a voting member of the Black Reel Awards. For her AWFJ archive, type "Jennifer Merin" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).