He's taught students in Prince George for 65 years. Now he's the subject of a documentary
Brij Berry, better known as Mr. Berry, is hitting the big screen as two former students dig into his life
Brij Berry couldn't guarantee he would make the Friday premiere in Prince George, B.C., of a film for which he's the main star.
"He told me as long as he doesn't have any students booking with him," said Jason Hamborg, one of the two filmmakers behind the new documentary Mr. Berry.
"I said, 'Really, Mr. Berry, you can't do that. You need to be there."
It points to Berry's commitment to the thousands of math students he has taught and tutored over the past 65 years. And it's that decades-long dedication that intrigued Hamborg and his co-filmmaker, Daniel Stark, both of whom are former students of Berry.
"I wanted to know what makes a man so committed to teaching and have that be such a satisfying thing in his life for so long," Stark said.
The pair came up with the idea to profile the math teacher, who's in his early 90s, after Telus reached out about grant funding for filmmakers. Stark grew up down the road from Berry and had recently sat in on a tutoring session with Berry and his girlfriend's sister.
"I was just watching him and you see this ancient man who just looks so sharp," Stark said. "He's so funny and he has so much personality."
'Thinks like no one else'
Berry, who sports long white hair and tortoise glasses on his forehead, was confused at first when approached about the documentary, but met with the filmmakers and eventually accepted.
Stark and Hamborg had no trouble finding former students to share their experiences. Some of their testimonials can be heard in the film's trailer.
"Be prepared to meet someone who thinks like no one else you've ever met before," says one person.
"Someone like Mr. Berry honestly could have been working on Wall Street," says another, "or he could be a guy that's working the Department of Defence with rockets or working on some new aerospace development."
The documentary, produced by 6ixSigma Productions, debuted Friday at the Prince George Playhouse.
Proceeds from the premiere will go toward establishing a bursary in Berry's honour at the University of Northern British Columbia.
Listen to the full interview:
With files from Daybreak North