Winter movie heads for the tropics

Frances-Anne Solomon’s award-winning movie A Winter Tale, set in the Caribbean Diaspora in Toronto, is to be screened around the region

Frances-Anne Solomon on a shoot in New York City in 2008. Photograph courtesy Leda Serene Films/Dominic Velox

A Winter Tale might not sound like a Caribbean movie—but this film has deep roots in the region. And filmgoers in this part of the world will have many chances to see it over the next few months.

After a number of successful North American premieres and theatrical releases, A Winter Tale, a feature film by Trinidadian director Frances-Anne Solomon, was scheduled to open last month in Kingston, Jamaica. Caribbean Beat and MEP, its parent company, are among the media sponsors of the movie’s Caribbean release.

Also written and produced by Solomon, A Winter Tale tells the story of a black men’s support group that forms at a Caribbean takeaway restaurant in Toronto after a young boy is killed by a stray bullet. The plot centres on the issues of gun violence and drug use, and the film captures the day-to-day emotional struggles of the individuals who make up the group.

Writing about the movie in Caribbean Beat after its release last year, Donna Yawching described it as containing “lots of heartbreak and a soupçon of humour.” A Winter Tale, which was four years in the making, won the Outstanding Canadian Feature Film Award at the ReelWorld Film Festival and the People’s Choice Award for Best Caribbean Feature at the 2007 Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival in September. In November, it was selected to open the 15th annual African Diaspora Film Festival in Manhattan.

The ensemble cast features a number of Caribbean talents, headed by Jamaican actor Leonie Forbes and Trinidadian comic Dennis “Sprangalang” Hall.

Solomon is the president and artistic director of Leda Serene Films and CaribbeanTales. She studied theatre at the University of Toronto and later worked in television with the BBC in London. It was on her return to Toronto in 1999 that she first noticed a phenomenon that eventually led to the making of A Winter Tale: she was struck, she told Yawching, by the increase of black violence in the city, and by extremely negative portrayals of black men.

Solomon said in a recent e-mail interview: “Being outside the Caribbean, of the Diaspora, colours my work, its themes. I think a lot of people share this double perspective now—but it was rare before.”

She grew up in Trinidad, but says that her family, though middle-class and privileged, was a troubled one, and that her personal history emerges directly or indirectly in her work. “In my films, I am driven to articulate my own emotional experiences, particularly the places that are hidden, in the shadows, the painful places. I think talking—or painting, or filming or singing—things out into the world makes personal experience part of the human tapestry, breaks isolation because it connects us, is healing, creates beauty out of pain, delivers a reference for others to chart their own way forward.

“Culturally it’s an essential anti-colonial tool.”

Her other projects have included Canada’s first multicultural sitcom, Lord Have Mercy, and a feature film based on her own family, What My Mother Told Me.

But even with several successes under her belt, she says, “As a filmmaker and artist I am still learning, still just beginning. That’s as it should be, and the journey is exciting.”

 

A Winter Tale in the Caribbean

Release date in:
Trinidad May 21
Screenings are also being planned for Antigua, Barbados, St Lucia, Grenada, St Croix, St Thomas, Curaçao, Aruba and St Maarten in June and July.

 

For more info: www.ledaserene.ca/web