Shots ring out one winter night, and a bullet meant for a local dealer kills a child. In the aftermath of shock, Gene, a 40 something social worker starts a Black men's support group, at the local Caribbean Takeaway Restaurant.
In Frances-Anne Solomon's elegiac "A Winter Tale", six Black men, all patrons at Miss G's Caribbean TakeAway Restaurant, form an ill-fated support group in an attempt to salvage their broken spirits and besieged community, following the local shooting death of a young child. A Winter Tale is set against the backdrop of a multicultural community's unrealized hopes and dreams. Bitter and tragic, funny and hopeful, the film tells a uniquely Canadian story that features Toronto as a central character Written by
It's such a relief to see a film that's both set in Toronto and features Toronto as one of its principal stars. This hasn't really happened since 1970 when Don Shebib's landmark Canadian film "Going Down the Road" filled us with an extraordinary sense of pride in our Canadian culture. That's the first good thing about "A Winter Tale."
The next good thing about this film is that Telefilm Canada, our federal cultural agency whose business is the development and promotion of the Canadian film industry, had the good sense to provide funding support to this small indie production. Telefilm decision makers could not have known, more than three years ago when the film was struggling to overcome all the barriers that make it so hard for independent Canadian films to see the light of day, that this little film would have the phenomenal success it has achieved across Canada and in Great Britain, Europe, the United States and the Caribbean.
The third good thing about "A Winter Tale" is the film itself. The fact that it looks, with empathy and thoughtfulness, at the violence and pain that has invaded culturally diverse neighborhoods in cities all over the world. And that it does so without the noisy, gory "shoot 'em up" theatrics of Hollywood's brightest and best. The fact that it explores (as much as any 100 minute film can) the inner lives of the men and women who are trapped within their day to day sorrows and joys. No matter what they do, they remain isolated by barriers of racism and poverty from the benefits and rewards that Western societies continue to promise their ever-hopeful immigrants. It is because of these features that audiences in countries all over the world believe that this little Canadian film, set in a downtown Toronto community, speaks directly to them and to their concerns and interests.
The last, but by no means the least, good thing about this film is director Frances-Anne Solomon's idea to use it as a tool for community engagement. At as many screenings as possible, Solomon and some of her cast have invited the audience to stay around and "Talk It Out". Audiences, young and old, of every color, class, caste and creed, in Canada and elsewhere, have taken up this invitation eagerly and added their own real life stories to the poignancy of the movie experience. Thus," A Winter Tale" has fulfilled much more, I am sure, that anybody ever expected.
At one of the first screenings that I attended about a year ago, Solomon thanked Diane Boehm for CHUM TV's providing the original funding to get this project going nearly eight years ago. It always gives me hope to know that there are still Canadian executives who, like Diane Boehm, are prepared to take a chance on Canadian talent that is relatively unknown in our so-called "mainstream", simply because it is Canadian.
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