If you grew up in Trinidad and Tobago, you probably have fond memories of Green Days by the River, one of Michael Anthony’s classic novels of a local childhood (along with The Games Were Coming and The Year in San Fernando).
Now it’s been filmed by local director Michael Mooleedhar, and selected to open this year’s Trinidad + Tobago film festival (ttff), which also opened with a TT-made film last year, a sign of progress and higher standards being attained in the local industry. The script, by Dawn Cumberbatch, deftly captures the novel, beginning with its powerful opening evocation of the rich flora and fauna and other images of life in rural Trinidad: mangrove, scarlet ibis, fishermen pulling seine.
As in the book, though, this is a dangerous beauty. Even the bush of rural Mayaro half a century ago conceals some sharp thorns and venomous creatures, some of them with only two legs. There may be no guns, or traffic, or oil rigs, but life there is less idyllic than it seems, said a media release.
The protagonist, the teenage Shellie “Shell” Lammy (Sudai Tafari) must undergo the rites of passage from youth to manhood, and finds along the way that some of them can only be endured with great pain.
For one thing, the little Lammy family has moved to an agricultural area of Mayaro from “down the beach” because his mother had to get a job there, now his father is too ill to work.