Frances-Anne Solomon is currently centre-stage in this the land of her birth, as director of the feature documentary ULRIC CROSS: A HERO FOR ALL TIME, a film on the life of the distinguished 96-year-old Trinidadian gentleman–Angela Pidduck reports for Trinidad’s Newsday.
Who is this Trinidadian international award-winning filmmaker? A recent Sunday Newsday story told more of Cross, the retired legal luminary, whose life as a “Trinidadian hero for all times” has inspired Solomon’s vision for the 75-minute feature documentary, to be released in 2014, and distributed across the Caribbean, in England, the United States of America and Africa, and will also be shown at festivals around the world.
Solomon is an award-winning filmmaker, writer, and producer in film, TV, radio, theatre, and new media, who was born in England of Trinidadian parents, and 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 and has continued to create, write, direct, and produce her own projects.
Solomon combines the best qualities of a dedicated artist who uses her academic training and directorial skills to bring urgent social issues to the public’s consciousness as well as a thoughtful entrepreneur, solicitous of the need of cultural workers to establish a sound financial foundation for launching their work. 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.”
Solomon’s 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 already a substantial amount of film footage has been collected, comprised of interviews, archival material and photographs. Major filming took place in Trinidad during April 2013, and further filming is scheduled in England during October and November 2013. Solomon firmly believes that 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.
“It’s a joy for me to tell this story” says the former Bishop Anstey High School graduate.who received a degree in Theatre Arts and English Literature at the University of Toronto, and then moved to England to pursue post-graduate work in film, and has since launched an exciting career. Now in her early 50s, Solomon started off as a documentary researcher and director for the Bandung File-Channel 4 TV, and for Ebony, BBCTV; then worked as a radio drama producer/director for the BBC where she was responsible for some 35 productions, including Monsoon by Maya Chowdhry and Her Father’s Daughter by Winsome Pinnock. Between 1992 and 1997, as script editor, producer and executive producer for BBC Television Films and Single Drama, Frances-Anne was responsible for several features and award-winning TV movies including Speak Like A child and The Sixth Happiness. She also initiated and executive-produced television movies written, directed and produced by minorities, known as Black Street Productions; and was the executive producer of Screen On The Tube — a co-production with the British Film Institute to develop first features with some of the UK’s “hottest” talent.
The result of these two initiatives include Love is the Devil – John Maybury’s first feature film, which premiered at the Director’s Fortnight of the Cannes Film Festival.
As a director, Solomon’s credits include What My Mother Told Me which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and was recognised in the Toronto Star’s Best of the Festival; Bideshi won Best Short Feature at the Bombay Film Festival; and I is A Long Memoried Woman won the Gold Award for Performing Arts at the 1991 New York International Film and TV Festival.
Solomon then moved on to fulfil a longtime ambition of starting her own production company, and in 1990, launched Leda Serene Films in England, with a staff of production and creative talent. By 1999, she brought her company to Toronto where she has continued to create, produce and direct film, television and new media projects. Leda Serene films is dedicated to placing people of colour in front of, as well as, behind the camera; and made its name as a producer of high quality dramas and documentaries which celebrate diversity — strong personal stories from different cultural perspectives in the global diaspora.
In 2000, in order to produce the series Bo Ke Bo Phelo! – a drama series about the lives and loves of four members of a township soccer team, Fsolomon registered Leda Serene Films Pty in Johannesburg, South Africa, and developed other projects there.
This indomitable Trini woman, in partnership with the University of Toronto in 2000, created the not-for-profit company, Caribbean Tales, to produce educational videos and new media products that document the rich legacy of Caribbean culture and heritage.
In 2004, Solomon received only rave reviews for the ground-breaking Canadian sitcom Lord Have Mercy!, which she created, co-wrote, and directed through her production company Leda Serene Films. The Gemini-nominated comedy series, Canada’s first multi-cultural sitcom, was a zany ensemble set in a Caribbean storefront church, and was taped live before a studio audience in Toronto. Featured in its cast were Trinidadian comics, Dennis “Sprangalang” Hall as the charismatic and easy-going Pastor Cuthbert Stevens, and Rachel Price, as Desiree, the wife of youth pastor Dwight Gooding, played by upcoming Canadian actor Arnold Pinnock.
For the original report go to http://www.newsday.co.tt/features/0,183060.html