By Stephen Weir
Chances are if you went to school in Trinidad, you would have read Michael Anthony’s Green Days By The River which tells the story of coming of age of a poor young man in the coastal village of Mayaro in 1952.
The book, first published in 1967, is considered one of Trinidad and Tobago’s most important post-colonial novels and Michael Anthony, one of that country’s outstanding authors .
Anthony’s masterpiece is now a movie which was recently shown at a media screening in Toronto.
Michael Mooledhar, a Trinidad-born film maker, put together a cast entirely from Trinidad and Tobago to make Green Days By the River into a lush full length film. It was shown at the Royal Cinema to launch this year’s Caribbean Tales Film Festival (CTFF) in Toronto.
The film has already been shown at festivals around the Caribbean, North America and Europe to critical acclaim
It is a moving, suspenseful film that stirred the mostly Canadian Caribbean audience at the College Street cinema. Aside from the English subtitles for those that don’t have a “Caribbean ear”, the actors, the landscape and the moral dilemmas of its main characters were Trini to the Bone.
Director Mooledhar said the story “ touches on all the issues of Trinidad 66 years ago. It tackles colour issues.There is cultural conflict everywhere, between country and the city, the beachside and the bush. Race and religion too. It is also a story about love, life, death and coming of age of a teenage boy.”
“In a remote village by the sea in 1952 Trinidad, a Black ambitious fifteen-year old, Shellie (Sudai Tafari), is charmed by the attractive Indian girl Rosalie (Nadia Kandhai), and flattered by the friendship of her father, Gidharee (Anand Lawkaran), who mentally accepts him as a future son-in-law.
“Despite his father’s terminal illness, Shellie follows a compassionate
Gidharee to work on his exotic plantation along the river in hopes of attracting Rosalie. All the while, Shellie falls for a tender, dainty girl from the city, Joan. The love triangle develops, as Shellie leads on the girls, not realizing the marriage trap set by Gidharee. ”
“ We tried not to stray to far from the original story,” producer Christian James, told the Caribbean Camera.
“We had the blessings of Michael Anthony, and he did come on set to give his advice. We did make changes to some of the details. For example, we couldn’t find the right almond tree that opens the film and had to settle for a mango tree instead. But it is undoubtedly Green Days By The River.”
Mooledhar said he and James try to appear at all the festival screeners.
“We do it whenever we can. We are always looking for distribution leads. It has shown in Caribbean theatres but a North American deal has escaped us. Canadians want to see the film? Follow us on Facebook, because we are looking at streaming it on ITunes or something similar very soon.”
The CTFF said with the screening of Green Days By The River in Toronto, ” it intended to draw attention to its “coming movie fete ” in September.
Its theme this year is “Light It Up,” which it said is “a call to action. A call to arms. A call to change.”
The festival will be held September 5-20 at the Royal Theatre.
Over 30 provocative and political stories of the Black Caribbean experience will be screened, including feature presentations from Trinidad, Haiti, Barbados, South Africa and Canada.