Caribbean-Canadian Film-Maker spent decade perfecting inner city hard times of Toronto: Well worth the wait [ATTN: MILD SPOILERS]

You may recall in October there was a special film festival at the Errol Barrow Centre of UWI… The one night my hectic schedule allowed me was an excellent opportunity to learn not only what some cinematographers endure but examining an aspect of Canada previously unexplored!

Actually, I have trailed the picture before, it has one of the main performers from Stargate and was due here in Bim for quite a while! Definitely worth the wait…

Most of the film centres around the gripping account of the senseless loss of an 8 year old child on Toronto’s inner-city slums peopled mainly by Caribbean immigrants.

Trinidad‘s Sprangalang is in the movie as the infant’s grandfather, but to me also he was Orpheus in the sense when he played his cuatro twice in the film – somebody died! I also feel he was the rekindled conscience of the elder part of the community. He has worked with Frances Anne Solomon before in “Lord Have Mercy,” a comedy.

Then there was the lead protagonist/quasi-hero (read further in and you’ll see why I refer to the fine acting this way) Gene, played by Stargate’s Peter Williams – decides to host a community therapy session for the black males in the neighbourhood. Initially, there appears to be great resistance, but rather than make the men come to him – Gene decides to approach them at their favorite hangout, a Caribbean takeaway restaurant (which is owned by the grandparent’s of the murdered child).

At this same eatery, there’s a janitor – a limping Jamaican called Clip, who must use medication to stay sane. As you watch the whole film, you realise all of the characters are not just pure good and evil – Villains have redeeming aspects and heroes or heroines have flaws.

A young male caught between right and wrong is DX or Dexter, whose mother used to be the girlfriend of Gene – what is not stated but is always floating is not that DX is Gene’s son, but that Gene could have been DX’s dad, and as such, he feels responsible for the youth. DX himself is a young father, caught in the lies and connivings of young drug-lord Lloyd, who helps “to run” the Caribbean eatery.

The phantom-parenting of Dexter/DX and the fact he still cares for DX’s mother is a conundrum in the view that Gene is married to a white woman (There is a scene in the picture where the wife is on the toilet, hops off and puts on her boots without letting soap or water touch her digits! All of the Bajans in the crowd that night made disgusted noises likeUh-Uh,” or “Huh-Hoy,” etc.) and they have two daughters…

Despite the rage of Gene’s wife at his hosting the community therapy, it eventually uncovers what really happened with the death of little Andrew, the 8 year old boy and it leads to a sad yet not totally unexpected conclusion.

The director of “A Winter Tale“, Frances Anne Solomon, is English-born of Trinidad parents, it took a whole decade for her to get this film up and running! Financing came mainly from Telefilm Canada and Chum TV, rather than direct scripting she would create situations where the actors would develop the dialogue – this was reinforced with constant research of gang violence in T-Dot as Toronto is known.

She called it a low-budget film800-thousand Canadian, so with little money she took her time to develop the plot and engineer the dialogue. For a crime story, this was well-crafted and did not use the tired excuse if drugs are involved, then it’s no big deal to use coarse language – this is not Frances’ style and it paid off handsomely!

The final scene where Lloyd gets his just desserts is apparently based on a true story! This picture was a great ensemble piece – some may say there are too many loose ends in the film, but for me it seemed just the same way that real life is! A gripping and eye-opening introduction to another side of Canada…

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