GREEN DAYS by the River had a home-coming over the weekend with the screening of the film in Mayaro, where the book on which the film is based had its genesis. The book, set in Mayaro during the 1950s, is written by Mayaro-born author and historian Michael Anthony.
Anthony was at the screening and also signed copies of his book, some of which were brought along by audience members, and others that were bought at the event.
Hundreds of residents from Mayaro and environs viewed the film at the BPTT Mayaro Resource Centre on Saturday. The free screening was sponsored by BPTT. The film focuses on the coming of age story of a 15-year-old boy (Shellie) from the coastal village of Mayaro, who is forced to face the consequences of his actions in a much less liberal epoch of Trinidad’s history.
Director Michael Mooleedhar and members of the cast also interacted with residents. On hand to answer questions were Sudai Tafari (Shellie), Nadia Kandhai (Rosalie), Anand Lawkaran (Mr Gidharee) and Kernell Alexander (Joe) who also recounted their personal experiences during filming.
For Anthony, who was a focal point at the screening, the experience was transcendent. “It is such an honour and a privilege to be back home to share this film. I’m proud of and excited by the work that film director Michael Mooleedhar did and by the reaction of the audience. It is a feeling that was shared by everyone here today," Anthony said. This film has served to revitalise both the interest in local literature as well as expose our population to the creativity and capability that is so abundant across TT. I would like to thank BPTT for bringing this film home and allowing so many to share in the experience.”
For Mooleedhar, the Mayaro experience was "awesome".
“This is the first feature film that I’ve done so far and coming to Mayaro feels awesome because it feels like I’m bringing my film home. This movie is important because it conveys an understanding of our society and culture in the '50s. Community screenings like these also make people aware of local art and talent, and it also brings stories alive through a different medium," he said. "This film has encouraged many people to look for and read Michael Anthony’s book and that appreciation of literature is always a positive thing.
“What many people may not know is that when we finished filming, we approached BPTT and they helped us with the cost of post-production so, in a major way, they have been with us from the early stages of this film. This free screening is just another step in the great work that they are doing across the country and especially in their home community of Mayaro.”
Somewhat overwhelmed but ecstatic by the Mayaro audience’s reaction lead actor Tafari said, “I saw an invitation to audition on Facebook and to my amazement I got the part. The entire experience was wonderful and liberating and today is like an amazing crescendo in my very own coming of age story. Even the drive to Mayaro via Manzanilla gave me chills today and I feel privileged to be here and share this experience with this beautiful and passionate audience. These are great people who came out to see a great film, thanks to a great sponsor in the form of BPTT.”
BPTT created the cinema ambience by providing the audience with snacks including hot dogs, popcorn, cupcakes and doughnuts. Corporate responsibility manager Ronda Francis said in a media release that the company places significant focus on the arts and culture in addition to investments in education, sports, enterprise development and capacity building. "We also support a number of Mayaro-based efforts including local theatre productions, training with audio-visual equipment and community-based film screenings like this.”
The screening was a special occasion for the Singh Family of Rio Claro as Narrad, his wife Radha and son Tavesh, brought their family copy of the book to be signed. “I studied this book in school many, many years ago and while my son was in secondary school, he also read it for literature and shared it with his mom who loved it also. The story and characters are real and relatable and the film is a terrific adaptation of the original material. Anand Lawkaran, who played Mr Gidharee, also grew up next door in Rio Claro so that made it even more unforgettable for us. We are really thankful for the opportunity to interact with Michael Anthony as well as the director and members of the cast,” said Narrad.
The film has been shown in Barbados, Grenada, Guyana and St Lucia, London, Switzerland, Malta and across the USA and has earned a number of awards since its release in September 2017, including Best Feature Film and People’s Choice in the 2017 Trinidad + Tobago Film Festival (TTFF) as well as receiving official selection at film festivals in Belize, Bahamas, Nassau, Seattle and Washington DC.