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Former GH teen plays part in 'Hunger Games'

Kyle Moroney • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:26 AM

As area residents flock to movie theaters to see the latest film craze, be on the lookout for a former Grand Haven face.

Thirteen-year-old Imanol Yepez-Frias plays a minor role in the movie, which stars Jennifer Lawrence. He and his family moved from Grand Haven to Asheville, N.C., about six years ago.

“It was really exciting,” Imanol said Thursday from North Carolina. “I got to see what the actors are like in real person.”

For those not familiar with "Hunger Games," it centers on a futuristic and altered North America, called Panem. Panem is divided into the Capitol — where the wealthy live frivolously — and 13 districts that serve the Capitol and the rest of Panem in their own way — such as masonry, fishing, agriculture, livestock, power or lumber.

Each year, one girl and one boy age 12-18 from each district are chosen in what is called The Reaping. These chosen children, called tributes, fight for their lives in a nationally televised “Hunger Game.”

In the movie, Imanol is one of the chosen tributes. He can be seen briefly in the chariot scene in the Reaping arena, but gets knifed in the back and dies.

“The way they did it was very subdued — there was not a lot of blood and you don’t see many faces,” said Claudia Yepez, Imanol’s mom. “So you’re able to de-tatch from whoever is playing that role. I think it was very well done.

“He was sad — he wished he could have lived longer,” she added.

The Yepez-Frias family moved from Grand Haven when Imanol was in first grade at Peach Plains Elementary School.

Imanol said he misses his friends in Grand Haven and the beach, as the closest beach to his house in North Carolina is four hours away. The Yepez-Frias family tries to visit Grand Haven every summer to spend time with their friends.

“We just have great memories of Grand Haven,” Claudia said.

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

To see an interview with Imanol, click here.

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