Ulric Cross: Hero for all time

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Ulric Cross: A Hero for All Time is the title of a feature documentary film on the life of this phenomenal Trinidadian gentleman, which is being directed and produced by Trinidadian, international award-winning filmmaker, Frances-Anne Solomon, whose vision for the film inspired by Cross’ life, is that he is seen as a “Trinidadian hero for all time,” Angela Pidduck reports for Trinidad’s Newsday.

It was the passionate wish of the late attorney-at-law, Desmond Allum SC, to celebrate the unique achievements of his close friend and colleague, Justice Ulric Cross, and at the same time erase the stereotypical images of Caribbean men as servants, thugs and beach bums. 

After Allum’s death, Hero Film Ltd was formed and incorporated, for this film only, and to ensure that its business is done in as professional, transparent and cost-effective a manner as possible. 

The Company’s officers are attorneys Rajiv Persad and Tara Allum and Dr Jacqueline Sharpe. Anne-Marie Stewart, International Management Consultant, is the Executive Producer of the film. Justice Cross’ daughter, Nicola, represents the Cross family’s interests and is an Associate Producer. So it was to Nicola Cross, a trained ecologist, who has lived most of her 44 years with her father, that I went to get an understanding of her father who turned 96 years on May 1. 

This Belmont-born, St Mary’s College student, one of nine children who together with his brother Neville are the two still alive, was brought up by his father after their mother’s early death, started his career doing legal work in Trinidad and then served as a Navigator in the Royal Air Force during World War 11, because says his daughter unhesitatingly: “My father felt Hitler had to be stopped.”

Now taking care of the retired Judge at their Port-of-Spain home, a very relaxed Nicola proudly speaks of her father: 

“He is very flexible and does not have fixed vision. My father has the ability to move with the times, to live in the present, to see what is in front of him and what he needs to do.”

So that after dealing with World War 11, which she says “had a huge impact on him and I know he was upset that Trinis and West Indians do not understand the role we played in the war”, Cross studied law further and was called to the bar. He also worked with the BBC in the early 1950s. When the world was not thinking of the African countries, Ulric Cross arrived in Ghana one month after its Independence and went on to work as senior counsel and as a lecturer there; and at the end of two years, went to West Cameroon where he remained for seven years, becoming an attorney-general. Cross then started the law school and the industrial court in Tanzania, where his daughter was born. “I came to Trinidad at age five,” says Nicola Zawadi Cross.

“My middle name is Swahilli for ‘gift’. My parents wanted me to have some memory/heritage of having been born in Tanzania where they lived for seven years. 

“My mother left Trinidad after a year. I stayed with my father during my formative years until completing O’ levels at Bishop Anstey High School. He was quite strict but at the same time raised me as a human being, not as a boy nor a girl.

“In me he did not see gender, he saw an individual. I do not think he was particularly conscious about Nicola as a girl. To him she is a human being who needs to do whatever she needs to do and being a girl will have a different experience to if she were a boy… I must raise this human being to do whatever she needs to do unless it does not impact on anyone else. 

“There are no memoirs because he lived in the now and was not particularly interested in documenting anything. Let’s do what you have to do now, was his way of thinking.

“He loves a good party and celebration, is still interested in the people he knows and loves sports…And does not seek adulation or recognition. 

“My Dad felt so strongly about the war, what Hitler was doing which was going to affect our lives. But Trinidad does not understand so the film has to be made and story told because that is what is important to him. The story uses his life to tell a much bigger story. He is simply a vehicle to tell a story about an era, as he has gone through many periods, including Trinidad before and after the war.” 

After a distinguished career in Trinidad both as High Court judge and Appeal Court Judge, said by all to have been outstanding for his fairness as a judge and arbitrator, Ulric Cross returned to Great Britain as Trinidad’s High Commissioner to the Court of St James and Ambassador to France and Germany, until he finally came home on October 30, 1993.

The Government of Trinidad and Tobago has bestowed several honours upon him, among them The Chaconia Gold Medal, The Order of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, and has renamed the Piarco Air Guard Station in his honour. 

The Director/Producer of A Hero For All Times, Frances-Anne Solomon, is an award-winning filmmaker, writer, and producer in film, TV, radio, theatre, and new media. 

Born in England to Trinidadian parents, Solomon, a former student of Bishop Anstey High School, was raised and educated in the Caribbean and Canada before moving to Great Britain where she built a successful career with the BBC as a TV Drama Producer and Executive Producer. 

She moved to Toronto in 2000, where she has continued to create, write, direct, and produce her own projects. She has always believed that one of her major responsibilities is to help in strengthening “the capacity of Caribbean film-makers to compete professionally on the open market.”

The story of Ulric Cross, a living legend, an inspiration to all, especially young people in the Caribbean and its Diaspora, now and for generations to come, is being filmed in Trinidad, England and Africa, and a substantial amount of film footage has been collected to date, comprised of interviews, archival material and photographs. 

Already major filming took place in Trinidad during April 2013, and further filming is scheduled in England during October and November 2013. 

The 75-minute feature documentary, planned for release in 2014, will be distributed across the Caribbean, in England, the US, and Africa. and will also be shown at festivals around the world. Approximately TT$1 million has been raised to date, mid-point in the projected target but as a privately funded initiative, the producers will welcome any and all assistance — financial and in kind. 

Solomon says the Ulric Cross’ story is an “important story for our children to know” as it spanned not only 1930s and 1940s Trinidad, but also the West Indian experience in World War 11, Caribbean contributions to newly post-independence Africa and the development of modern Caribbean diplomacy. 

And she says: “It’s a joy for me to tell this story.”

For the original report go to http://www.newsday.co.tt/features/0,182067.html

One thought on “Ulric Cross: Hero for all time

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