The Grizzlies movie comes to Arviat

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It was an emotional evening in Arviat when the community hosted a screening of The Grizzlies at the Mark Kalluak Community Hall.

Innosar Issakiark, right, and drama teacher Gord Billard are all smiles while attending a screening of the Grizzlies in Arviat on Feb. 20, 2019. Photo courtesy Gord Billard
Innosar Issakiark, right, and drama teacher Gord Billard are all smiles while attending a screening of the Grizzlies in Arviat on Feb. 20, 2019.
Photo courtesy Gord Billard

Innosar Issakiark was seen a number of times in the movie – a true story based on a teacher’s efforts to improve life for youth in Kugluktuk through the sport of lacrosse – and he was thrilled to be seeing the screening in his home community on Wednesday, Feb. 20.
Issakiark, 23, said he was just being himself during his screen shots in the film.
He said word did get out on the movie set about his guitar-playing skills, so he’s getting to be known as simply the guitar guy.
“Watching the film again brought back a lot of memories,” said Issakiark.
“Most of the time I was trying to remember how it was when we were actually shooting the scenes I was seeing right in front of me.
“I was pretty nervous and excited about the screening in Arviat.
“But a lot of people came to watch it, so that made me very happy as well.”
Issakiark said it can be a very strange feeling, sitting there and watching yourself on the big movie screen.
He said he’s not used to seeing himself like that, but he has to admit, it felt pretty awesome.
“It’s a wonderful movie based on a true story, and it’s not just about the teacher, but, rather, everyone who’s involved.
“It’s a really touching movie – a very powerful movie – that’s quite inspirational, so I really can’t describe in words on just how good of a movie it really is.
“There were quite a few tears in the community hall during the screening.
“I sat next to Gord Billard and he cried every 10 minutes, as did my mom and little sister – almost everybody cried at least once during the movie, including me.”
Issakiark said he has no immediate plans to return to the silver screen.
He said he’s been asked to audition for a few more roles, but he’s decided to concentrate on finishing all his schooling and getting a steady job first.
“I want to be financially stable before I try anything else right now.
“I’m working as a housing maintainer with our local housing authority in Arviat right now, so I’m just going to take my time and see how things go for now.”
Billard said in his opinion, The Grizzlies is nothing short of a fabulous movie.
He describes the film as a masterpiece of Northern storytelling.
“The film hit all the right notes, pushed all the right buttons, and spanned the whole spectrum of feelings and emotions that affect people’s lives up here,” said Billard.
“It seemed to touch on every situation that people struggle with here and treated them realistically and authentically.
“It was real – a true depiction of life in many of the communities up here and the difficulties that they all share.
“But, despite all that, there were comedic moments that kept it light and it was full of messages of hope, perseverance, resilience, determination, and the importance of never giving up and having family and friend networks to help get you through difficult times.”
Billard said he had a lump in his throat every time Issakiark appeared on the screen.
He said while he didn’t have any major lines, Issakiark did have a lot of screen time in the film.
“His smiling face and his troubled face were both on the screen quite a bit.
“He’s a budding guitarist, and there’s one scene where his guitar playing is highlighted following a series of suicides and tragic events that besieged the characters.
“So that scene really gave him his moment in the sun and that was another very cool moment in the film.
“I strongly recommend this film to everyone, as, above everything else, it leaves you feeling full of hope and there’s, arguably, nothing more important than that in regards to many lives being lived up here.”

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