The Guardian, Trinidad,
Sunday May 18
BY ATTILLAH SPRINGER
“We got to build a better nation
Clean up Jah creation
Or there will be no future for you and me”
—Fools Die, Peter Tosh
What good is a community without stories? What value is a society without storytellers? I mean beyond crick crack. Beyond the loss of douens to electric lights and Anansi replaced by the World Wide Web.
The carrier of the stories is the carrier of the wisdom and a sensibility that you can’t and never will get from the Red House.
The carrier of the stories is both the revolutionary and the peacemaker. Who shows the community its beauty and its dirt and its light.
A storyteller is a shape-shifter who uses every tool, every image, every sense to draw you in, capture your imagination.
So where the hell are our stories? Who is fictionalising our lives? Who is fashioning our superheroes?
All these questions plagued me before, during and after I went to see A Winter Tale, which everyone should see really.
Because in the absence of our own storytellers our children grow up in awe of someone else’s mythology.
Imagine in all my 30 years on this island, this is the first time I was sitting in Globe cinema to watch a local film.
And it might be set in Canada but I have to take ownership of those emotionally scarred men and the women shouldering too much weight of dying boy children.
And we have too many frustrated artists walking around this town to not understand that the loudness of our self-doubt has a startling ability to drown out our desire to speak our truths.
Aside from the embarrassment, aside from the frustration, I am so glad that A Winter Tale is being shown here and now.
And I’m glad too that they chose the Globe, in the heart of my beautiful stinking city, to show it, as opposed to going to that place in the murdered mangrove.
It’s not a pleasant film. It’s not a kicks t’ing. It’s not the loud, effects-filled, slap-stick foolishness that usually numbs our brains.
And this is not a review but A Winter Tale is bloody brilliant. Especially because you’re not going to leave the theatre feeling all warm and fuzzy.
And especially because you will weep for a fictional dead child in ways that you do not weep when you watch the news.
Frances Anne has all the marks of a good storyteller in that you will feel more sorrow for a place and time and people fashioned out of living truths.
Because everybody knows our men are in crisis. Everybody knows but who wants to take responsibility for finding or creating solutions?
The audience titters uncomfortably at inappropriate times. They steups at the gangsta boy who falls apart when the little boy dies.
They are scandalised at two beautifully naked bodies embracing in grief. They have a problem with the cuss words as if the F word is more obscene than a generation of boys who will never know what it is to be men outside of owning a gun.
We should feel more scandalised by the fact that we have a nation of children growing up absorbing somebody else’s mythology. Who do not know that they too can be superheroes, let alone be on a big screen, playing themselves with a depth and truth that is just plain shattering.
The procrastinating writer in me winces because there are so many other stories like this that need to be told.
And I hear a lot of talk these days about developing a film industry. And it’s important, yes, to industrialise the way we operate our creative potential. Beyond oil or gas or goddamned smelters, our creativity is our real nation-building potential.
But we also have to be able to see the value of the stories that we have to tell and train our storytellers wisely so that the films we make don’t end up looking like the Port-of-Spain waterfront. Tall and empty and bright imitations that are irrelevant to the landscape.
A Winter Tale is now showing at Globe, Cinemas 8,Hobosco and MovieTowne until Tuesday.