Director of the film Green Days By The River, Michael Mooleedhar (left), and author of the book, Michael Anthony at the start of the screening on Thursday. (Picture by Ricardo Leacock.)
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When Trinidadian author Michael Anthony first put pen to paper more than 60 years ago, many thought that books were only written by people in distant and colder climes such as the United Kingdom or the United States.
So when his book Green Days By The River was green lit to be adapted into a movie of the same name, Anthony smiled.
The book, which was published first in 1954, is a coming of age story told through the voice of a 15-year-old boy, “Shellie”, from the lush coastal village of Mayaro. The movie was directed by Michael Mooleedhar, who is also from Trinidad and Tobago.
In the film, Shellie grapples with poverty and his ailing father. He finds solace in a wealthy Indian farmer who basically promises him his daughter Rosalie. This is until Shellie falls in love with a city girl, and discovers the downfall of making the “wrong” decision.
The film was released last year and is currently one of the films being highlighted during the Barbados Independent Film Festival.
After a sold-out screening at Limegrove Cinemas, Holetown, St James, on Thursday, there was rousing applause as the credits rolled.
Mooleedhar shared the lengthy experience of securing sponsorship, while Anthony, 87, let the audience in on some secrets about the book.
Each of the characters are real, as are the locations in the film.
He said the book’s lead female, Rosalie, lived near to his house, and there was cashews where the boys went to just to see her.
“There are no fictitious characters . . . so I am probably lucky to get away with murder,” he joked as he praised the effort of the film’s director.
“I think that one of the most useful things that Michael did is to set the standard for those who are coming behind and it makes a lot of people feel it could be done with hard work,” Anthony said.
In response to a question from one of the audience members who compared him to Barbadian author George Lamming, he said he was a fan of his work.
But while some say imitation is the greatest form of flattery, he stressed the importance of having your own voice.
“He [Lamming] showed it was possible to write a book because a lot of the young children in society really thought that books could only be written in England and in America,” he said.
The acclaimed author also said despite distractions, he still had to find time for his art. “I went to England in 1954 at 24 . . . I found that to write was the only thing I was interested in doing. I had several little jobs but I still put aside a little bit of time for writing.
You have to speak with your own voice . . . you have to serve your apprenticeship and when you serve your apprenticeship then you come in to your own strength,” he said.
The film opens on January 18 at the Olympus Theatres and at Limegrove and there are also special rates for students to view it. (TG)