Here’s the latest from the crossroads of faith and media:

The multiple-award winning Canadian real-life sports drama The Grizzlies is now available via streaming. As I wrote back in February, the crowd-pleasing fish-out-0f-water film plays like a cross between the classic 1967 Sidney Poitier film To Sir with Love and the classic 1990-95 TV series Northern Exposure.

Set in the late nineties, The Grizzlies features a cast of mostly of indigenous people from in and around the Northwest Territories of Canada. It tells the true story of the Inuit youth lacrosse team of Kugluktuk, Nunavut, an isolated community that struggled with a severe rate of suicide. The film follows the struggling team members as they find their way to a sense of greater hope and resilience through each other and the guidance of their unlikely coach, a history teacher from Saskatchewan named Russ Sheppard (played in the film by US actor Ben Schnetzer). Though he originally had a one-year contract, he ended up staying for seven.

I had the great pleasure to chat with the real-life Russ Sheppard who served as a consultant on the movie. He credits the producers with maintaining a positive overarching theme and coming pretty darn close to conveying exactly what happened. He tells me that he’s very proud of the movie and dismisses any criticisms that it’s a so-called “white savior” movie. He says “If anything it is they (his team) who taught me about what inner strength is. They’ve overcome more adversity than I ever have. My life was totally changed by working with these kids.”

Today, Sheppard, a father of two kids, lives in British Columbia and works as a lawyer. He says he still keeps up with his team members and believes they’ll be friends for life.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11




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