Friday 20 July 2018

Movie Review: River Flows from Mayaro to Downtown Toronto

Best all Trini movie you will never see in a Canadian theatre
By Stephen Weir for Caribbean Camera

Chances are if you went to school in Trinidad you have read and studied Michael Anthony’s Green Days By The River. If you haven’t read the classic Trinidadian novel there is a new made-in-T&T movie that faithfully tells the story of coming of age for a poor young man in the coastal village of Mayaro in 1952.
The book, first published in 1967, is considered one of Trinidad’s most important post colonial novels and Michael Anthony one of the most important living authors (he is listed as one of the 50 most influential people in Trinidad and Tobago).  Now his masterpiece is a movie, and late last week, film junkies got to see the feature film for maybe the first and last time in Canada at a media screening in Toronto.
Michael Mooledhar, a Trinidadian born film maker put together a 100% T&T cast and crew to make Green Days By the River into a lush full length film.  For the past year the flick has been showing at festivals around the Caribbean, North America and Europe to critical acclaim. Last week the film was shown at the Royal Cinema in Toronto to launch this year’s Caribbean Tales Film Festival (CTFF).
Proudly Trinidadian, it is a moving, suspenseful film that stirred the mostly Canadian Caribbean audience that all but filled 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.
“It is really a story about nothing, and everything, “ says director Michael Mooledhar. “It touches on all the issues of Trinidad 66-years ago. It tackles colour issues, black and.  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.”
 Mooledhar describes the story thusly: “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 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 Shell leads on the girls, not realizing the marriage trap set by Gidharee.
“ We tried not to stray to far from the original story,” the film’s producer Christian James told the Caribbean Camera. “We had the blessing of Michael Anthony, and he did come on set to give his advice.  We did make changes to some of the details – 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 River.”
Mooledhar and James try to appear at all the festival screeners. “We do it whenever we can,” he continued. “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 film was brought to Toronto by the CTFF to bring attention to their coming movie fete.  What is in store for 2018? The theme this year is Light It Up, which the CTFF describe as “a call to action. A call to arms. A call to change.”
Director Mooledhar by sweirsweir
It all begins September 05 at the Royal Theatre in downtown Toronto and runs until the 20th. 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.