HERO,” Inspired by The Extraordinary Life & Times of Mr. Ulric Cross
‘A celebration of Black excellence’
By Tashia Antoine
HERO,” Inspired by The Extraordinary Life & Times of Mr. Ulric Cross,” is a must-see movie that tells the story of the West Indies’ most decorated war veteran.
At its Canadian premiere at the TIFF Bell Lightbox Cinema in Toronto on Thursday, moviegoers and critics came out in droves.
For some, this may have been an opportunity to make comparisons from its preview screening before the final edited version at the Caribbean Tales Film Festival last September. But for most, it was a proud moment to behold a significant part of Black history on the big screen.
The film charts the hitherto untold story of Cross from childhood in colonial Trinidad to serving in World War Two and later earning his law degree and becoming a jurist and diplomat.
After serving as a squadron leader and navigator in the elite British Royal Air Force and playing an integral part in its victory in the Second World War , a spotlight is placed on his years living in England after the war and the struggles he encountered as a black man in a white society, despite being a recognized hero.
He studies to become a lawyer, passes the bar exam but is not allowed to practice because of the colour of his skin. He then takes a position as a producer at the BBC’s Caribbean Service but shortly afterwards was recruited by fellow Trinidadian George Padmore, one of the architects of Pan-Africanism, to travel to Ghana to help Kwame Nkrumah in the task of uniting Africa’s then emerging independent nations.
Cross made a significant contribution to the development of several African countries in transition from colonialism to independence. During his 15 years in Africa, he served on Ghana’s Crown Council. He was also Attorney General in Cameroon, a High Court Judge in Tanzania and Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Dar Es Salaam.
Upon his return to his homeland, Trinidad and Tobago, Cross served as a judge on the Court of Appeal, and later became Chair of the country’s Law Reform Commission. He also served as Trinidad and Tobago’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom from 1990 to 1993.
Local filmmaker Frances-Anne Solomon who wrote, directed and produced this outstanding docu-drama, received lavish praise for showcasing an historical legend and for her contribution to the Pan African Movement and for helping to change the negative stereotypical portrayal of people of African descent on the screen.
The film boasts of a predominantly black cast from various corners of the diaspora -the Caribbean, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Ghana – and they were well chosen for their roles.
The lead role of Ulric Cross is played by Trinidadian singer/songwriter Nickolai Salcedo. St. Lucia-born Joseph Marcell who is still affectionately called Jeffrey from his role in Fresh Prince of Bel-Air plays Trinidadian cultural historian and political activist CLR James. Other cast members and cameos include Canadian Peter William’s (of Stargate-SG1) who plays ‘Pony’ and superstar Ghanaian actors John Dumelo and Adjetey Anang with Jimmy Akingbola playing the part of Kwame Nkrumah.
HERO is an electrifying, dramatic motion picture, filled with twists and turns that will thrill audiences across the globe.
People of all backgrounds should see this film as it sheds light on an important period in the history of several developing countries.
It’s not just a biopic that tells the story of Ulric Cross. It’s a celebration of Black excellence.