published: Monday | April 7, 2008
Mel Cooke, Freelance Writer
Veteran Jamaican actress Leonie Forbes (centre) with Ryan Ishmael who plays Sibeka in the movie ‘A Winter Tale’ and Nicole ‘Passion’ Weller at the private showing at Sovereign Centre last Thursday.
As the rainy season sloshed its way into the dry spell, a film from a foreign season but inextricably linked to Jamaica made its ‘yard’ debut at the Palace Cineplex, Sovereign Centre, Liguanea, on Thursday evening.
The hordes, many speaking theatrically, on the landing outside the cinemas’ entrance, where the cocktails were more than ample, indicated the importance of A Winter Tale and the cinema was duly crammed.
And director Frances-Anne Solomon, speaking before the tale was told on big screen, spoke simply about the importance of the Jamaican premiere to her and the cast, even after A Winter Tale has traveled far and wide.
“Wow! I am really overwhelmed,” she said. Solomon noted that the film, set in Canada and which weaves the often unspoken effects of persistent violence on black men around the nucleus of the killing of a child, had been shown in Canada, the United States and England. However, she and members of the cast were more excited about Thursday night’s premier than all the previous ones combined, “because of the importance of Jamaica in terms of our identity as Caribbean people”.
There were bouquets from Solomon for Mary Wells, who did the groundwork for the premiere, and film commissioner Del Crooks, then a big hug for Leonie Forbes, who plays ‘Miss G’ in A Winter Tale.
Earlier, as Brian St Juste, who hosted the launch, had welcomed “the filmmaker and her team, including Leonie Forbes”, the squeals had gone up. Also present in the flesh as well as magnified on big screen on Thursday evening were Peter Williams (Gene), Michael Miller (DX) and Ryan Ishmael (Sibeka).
Robert Gregory of Jamaica Trade and Invest (JTI) described A Winter Tale as “a compelling story of struggle, survival and healing” and hoped that it would soon be out on DVD as “I look forward to watching this film over and over again”.
“It is a quality production and credible story which is relevant to the times,” he said.
Blair Bonnick, political and economic counsellor, Canadian High Commission, made the link with the maple leaf land where the wintry tale was told. “What a glorious evening to be here,” he said.
“Canadian films have established a reputation for excellence,” Bonnick said, noting that although the filmmaker and persons in A Winter Tale were not from Canada “we consider them our own”.
Bonnick said that in Canadian films “less emphasis is placed on special effects” and their approach “proves that captivating stories can be told with small budgets”.
And Elaine Campbell-Grizzle of the National Council on Drug Abuse made a connection of a different kind, speaking to the drug trade, which led to the murder of the young boy. “It is so closely related to what we do at the council, to stop the abuse of illegal drugs as well as the abuse of legal drugs,” she said.
The audience got a chance to get involved, as there was an interactive session after A Winter Tale had finished and the credits had been run.
A Winter Tale goes into general release islandwide on Wednesday, April 9.
Canadian High Commissioner Denis Kingsley with producer/writer/director of ‘A Winter Tale’ Frances-Anne Solomon at the special showing hosted by the high commission and Jamaica Trade and Invest at the Palace Cineplex last Thursday. – Winston Sill/Freelance Photographer