By Stephen Weir
For local filmmaker Frances-Anne Solomon, the best outcome for next week’s Canadian premiere of her new movie is that audiences in Toronto and Hamilton will give the feature a Hero’s welcome. After a successful launch late last year in Trinidad, HERO,” inspired By The Extraordinary Life & Times Of Mr. Ulric Cross,” is about to be screened at theatres in the GTA and across Canada.
Filmed in Trinidad, Ghana, the United Kingdom and Canada, HERO is the full-length docudrama about Ulric Cross (played by Trinidad and Tobago singer Nickolai Salcedo), the famed Trinidadian World War II airman. This is a big vision film that tells the story of the West Indies’ most decorated war veteran. Cross was a squadron leader in the Royal Air Force and went on after the war to become a jurist and an African diplomat. His life spanned key events of the 20th century when several African and Caribbean countries were on the road to independence.
The members of the cast in HERO are of all hues, though primarily Black.“ We shot and cast Salcedo, a true son of the soil, “ explained Solomon, the Caribbean Canadian director, writer and producer of Hero. “The top British actors, who joined our team, were also from all corners of the diaspora, from Joseph Marcell (originally from St Lucia), to Jimmy Akingbola (British Nigerian) and Eric Kofo Abrefa (British Ghanaian). In Ghana it was essential that we cast Ghanaian stars and were incredibly privileged to have John Dumelo and Adjetey Anang, superstar actors in Ghana, join our team”.
The movie was previewed even while it was in final post-production in Toronto last September at the Caribbean Tales Film Festival. Next Thursday’s screening will be the first time it will be shown in its final cut version in North America. A number of stars from the film will be in Canada at the premiere to meet fans and cheer on Solomon. Joseph Marcell, well known for his role as the butler in the Fresh Prince of Bel Air TV series, will be at the launch at the King Street TIFF Bell Lightbox cinema. He will be joined on the red carpet by Ghanaian superstar Anang, and Canada’s Peter Williams (Stargate SG-1)
Film Festival goers who saw HERO in September will notice a few modifications to the movie as it moves into worldwide circulation. “We have made edit changes that have been based on the feedback from both the Toronto and Trinidad screenings and the final sound mix will also be in place,” said Solomon who is based in Toronto.
“ The Trinidad reception was amazing – we had four theatrical screenings at the Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival and received the Audience Choice Award. We had one school screening in Trinidad and the teens responded really well,” she added.
“We have not had any other screenings in Trinidad or the rest of the Caribbean yet, but plan to tour the Caribbean later this year.”
After next Thursday’s showing, HERO moves to Hamilton, Ontario for a screening on March 6, Ghana’s Independence Day, at the newly renovated Westdale Cinema. Marcell, Anang, Williams and Frances-Anne Solomon will attend the 6.30 p.m. showing..
Over the next six weeks there will be four more screenings in downtown Toronto. The feature film is also being booked in theatres in Scarborough, Pickering, Brampton and the rest of the GTA (dates and location will be announced soon). It will be shown in Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, and Atlantic Canada.
The film premieres in the UK this May.
Solomon’s World Tour will circle back to the Caribbean for late summer this year.
“It is so important for Caribbean people to see HERO, in order to understand the breadth of our contributions to world history, said Solomon.
” We in the Caribbean see ourselves as small, and limited, but Ulric’s life exemplified the HERO’s journey. I think of Shakespeare’s description: ‘Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world Like a Colossus.'”
HERO World Tour Official Trailer