Image credit: Ricky Marty-Pahtaykan, from Frog Lake, in Mongrel Media’s trailer for The Grizzlies.
A private screening of a successful indie film that tackles the issue of suicide with an Indigenous actor from the Lakeland happened in Cold Lake on Friday.
Morning Sky Health and Wellness showed The Grizzlies at Grande Square Cinema, a film that sees Ricky Marty-Pahtaykan, from Frog Lake, play a leading role.
Marty-Pahtaykan stars as Adam in The Grizzlies, an emotional, touching film based on the true story of students coming together to play lacrosse in their Arctic town Kugluktuk (Nunavut) which is struggling with the highest suicide rate in North America.
“In the movie, Adam’s parents have passed away and so his grandparents raised him. His grandparents lived off the land, they didn’t like the ‘white man world,'” said Marty-Pahtaykan.
“They didn’t want him to be a part of any of that. In a way, I can kind of relate because my grandparents raised me as well from Onion Lake. Playing Adam was normal.”
The film follows first-time teacher Russ Sheppheard (Ben Schentzer) as he moves up north for his first teaching job and the students who become part of a higher purpose by playing lacrosse.
Director Miranda de Pencier had said that the themes of the film are global by exploring the issues of trauma and alcoholism.
Marty-Pahtaykan’s mother works as an addictions counselor for Morning Sky Health and Wellness and was handing out Kleenex boxes before the movie.
“I can’t imagine what she goes through. She’s got three sons that are in the movie business that are successful…at least it’s going that way. She’s addictions counselor for Morningsky. It wasn’t her idea to bring the film, it was the board. They came together to do that,” said Marty-Pahtaykan.
The Grizzlies has enjoyed success since its release last September.
It was featured at the Toronto International Film Festival, nominated for two Canadian Screen Awards, and won Palm Springs International Film Festival’s award for Best Narrative Feature.
Ricky and his three brothers are also seeing greater success on the Silver Screen.
Tristen played Buddy Blackwolf in 2017’s Indian Horse and Samuel was in the Netflix mini-series Godless.
“Don’t give up on yourself. You’re more than capable of doing anything. Never give up on your dreams. Anything is possible. If I can do it, you can do it,” said Ricky.
He says his next venture will be going to school in British Columbia as a television and film student.