Did you know a Canadian film took home the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature at the prestigious Palm Springs International Film Festival, which took place from January 3 to 14, 2019?

Set in the Inuit community of Kugluktuk, Nunavut, a remote town that had high suicide rates, Miranda de Pencier’s The Grizzlies tells the tale of students who found inspiration and meaning in their lacrosse team, called the Grizzlies, and in their quest to play in the national championships. Featuring a cast that includes young Indigenous talent from many different communities, as well as renowned actress Tantoo Cardinal (who’s a member of the Order of Canada, and was an honoree at the 2018 Birks Diamond Tribute to the Year’s Women in Film at the Toronto International Film Festival), the movie was filmed in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Guelph, and Toronto. De Pencier’s feature debut is based on a true story.

Following its world premiere at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival, The Grizzlies made its U.S. premiere in Palm Springs to rave reviews, and de Pencier was present at the festival, along with co-writer Moira Walley-Beckett. Just last year, she won the Directors Guild of Canada award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film. The movie also took home the Audience Favourite, Canadian Narrative Feature Award at the Calgary International Film Festival.

(Pssst…The Grizzlies will be hitting theatres in Canada in April 2019!)

Palm Springs was bursting with Canadian talent

Palm Springs was bursting with Canadian talent this year, with quite a big selection of films, including five features and three documentaries: Sophie Dupuis’s Family First (Chien de Garde), which also represented Canada in the race for this year’s Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nominations, Keith Behrman’s Giant Little Ones, Patricia Rozema’s Mouthpiece, and Sébastien Pilote’s The Fireflies are Gone (La disparition des lucioles). On the doc side, we had Matthew Shoychet’s The Accountant of Auschwitz, Don Millar’s Botero, and Rob Stewart’s Sharkwater Extinction. Bonus: John N. Smith’s The Boys of St-Vincent was presented as part of the retrospective section of the festival.