Arm Nation, a documentary TV series, of 30-minute episodes for APTN is currently in production and a team was in Red Deer over the weekend filming.
The documentary series follows a dozen of Canada’s most passionate indigenous arm wrestlers. They were filming at the Battlezone Alberta Tournament in the City following the series’ characters including a promising arm wrestling newcomer, Donna Purdy-Guspodaruchuk. She travelled to Red Deer from Winnipeg to help gain table time experience en route to her first National Arm Wrestling Championship, which takes place June 30th to July 2nd in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Although she’s only been competing in the sport since November, she was the surprise winner in both arms in the under 130 lb. weight class in the Manitoba provincials in April. She is also fighting a bigger battle. The mother of three and grandmother of two is battling kidney cancer, but is adamant that she doesn’t want to let that curtail her new passion for the sport.
Produced and written by Maureen Marovitch and co-produced by David Finch, the documentary was inspired by a Mi’kmaq arm wrestler from out east, Trevor Sanipass.
“Trevor is a really avid arm wrestler. His whole family had been,” said Marovitch.
Sanipass came to Marovitch’s production company with the idea to which Marovitch and Finch thought ‘arm wrestling?’ With Sanipass being very passionate about the idea and saying it was quite popular in his community and others, they proceeded to do some research.
“We did some research and found out that there was quite a number of First Nations arm wrestlers across Canada,” she said.
Her and Finch then convinced APTN that there was a great sub culture and really interesting stories to delve into, and from they hit the ground running, travelling to several provinces to follow arm wrestlers for their series.
“We have several in Alberta, in Edmonton and in Calgary. We have people in Manitoba, British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia.”
With the series being primarily about arm wrestling, it’s also about peoples’ stories.
“Although there’s a lot of great arm wrestling action and it is actually more exciting than you’d think because they get in these epic battles, it also follows people in their day to day lives and what single mothers have to do to manage to get to these tournaments,” said Marovitch.
While in Red Deer, the film crew also followed Steph Heroux, a multiple provincial and national champion. He was there rooting for his son, Noah, 7, who was competing in the children’s competition. The cameras also followed Deb Fiddler, a veteran arm wrestler who has represented Canada at the World Championships.
The series will air in 2018, but not air date has been set yet.