Contemporary World Cinema | 2017 | 102 minutes
Stranger Says: In 1950s Trinidad, Shell is a charismatic 15-year-old who has moved to a new rural community. It is a beautiful place, all shades of green with lovely meandering rivers. He faces the usual teenage dilemmas: which girl to like, what job to get, what he wants versus what his parents want for him. The culture of Trinidad is fascinating, with descendants of Africans and East Indians mixing it up together, and it all comes into play in the film when young people come together (speaking their lyrical English Creole). The story is centered on the characters; they exist only in this place, with little entering from the outside world—and the gorgeous soundtrack helps carry it all along.
SIFF Says:It’s 1952 in the coastal village of Mayaro, Trinidad, and although he doesn’t know it, young Shellie’s (Sudai Tafari) life is on the verge of change. Due to his father’s worsening illness, he and his mother are on the verge of poverty, leaving this shy, worry-stricken 15-year-old little time to be with his peers, getting in trouble and courting young “janes.” Luck arrives in the form of Mr. Gidharee, a local wealthy Indian farmer who takes a shine to Shellie and trains him to pick fruit and cocoa on his plantation. Even luckier, Shellie is quite fond of Gidharee’s daughter Rosalie and is ecstatic to find that she returns his affection. All seems well until Shellie meets city girl Joan at a local dance, and what seems like an innocuous love triangle turns more complicated and sinister with each passing day, forcing Shellie to learn bittersweet lessons of life and love that will define his future forever. Based on the beloved 1967 novel by Michael Anthony, GREEN DAYS BY THE RIVER artfully handles weighty issues of race, class, servitude, and lost innocence, giving SIFF audiences a vision of Trinidad and its history they’ll not soon forget.
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