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HERO – Life and Times of Mr​ Ulric Cross

A Premier and a Reminder

Recently, I was lucky enough to attend a premiere of HERO, the new film by director Frances-Anne Solomon based on the life of her father Ulric Cross.  It was a last-minute ticket and I expected to, no actually I didn’t’ know what to expect.

What I found was a beautiful film and a eulogy for her father.  Grieving the one year death of my father last week, I emphasised with the loss.  I looked at the first 20 minutes of the film thinking, how I wish that I could be watching this with my father.

Representing Reality

But over time, as the film progressed I got more enraged,  I struggled with the representation of white women in the film, the lovers and wives of the main actors. And by the end, I wanted to ask a question about what it is like film these relationships as a dual-heritage woman.  In a world where skin colour still matters deeply, I was curious about how to hold honouring her parents and representing reality.

But I couldn’t ask that question, because I couldn’t frame it without anger and without disrespect for her mother.  Still, I resented the lack of a true Black authentic female voice in the film.  And I fought the representation of a true West Indian hero without what I felt was a critical eye to his work as well as his relationships.

Caught Between Worlds

In the end, maybe that wasn’t what the film was about.  It was a tribute to a part of his-tory that is little known but I wondered whether I was the only person who was caught between these worlds.  The world of pride that I share about the resilience of ‘West Indians’ 70 years ago.  The way that they rose above the petty racism and real hardships that they faced when they arrived here in the 30s/40s and 50s.

And the colonial mentality that to this day we carry deep in our bones, even as we see a resurgence of the hostility that they faced all those years ago.  I recognise it because my father carried the same, the split in the love of the motherland from afar and the rejection when he saw it close up.

Ultimately you will have to go an make your own decisions about Hero.  It is a fine film and a flawed one in my opinion.  And that’s what makes it real, that’s what we sit with as a Caribbean people.

No Dissenting Voices

No-one asked a difficult question or raised a dissenting voice.  I wish I had, I think that’s needed and required and afterwards, I discussed with other women the same themes and found the same reactions.  I hope that this film gets the distribution that it deserves and goes around the UK and out to Africa the Caribbean.

And I also wish that when it goes into schools and is used as an educational tool to teach our young about this part of Caribbean and UK history, there is more of a critical eye to these kinds of questions.  Because if we are honest with each other in the Black community in the UK, these questions of colourism and relationships between men and women are a sorely needed conversation. Feelings are real and raw and anger and rage are lurking in the background!

Is there a possibility that this film can open up these kinds of questions for the future generation?  There are no easy answers, trauma and a fractured and complex history lie behind these stories.  But I am seeing time and anger the same issues at my workshops an in one-to-one sessions.  Too many times not to think that there is more work to be done.

Until Next time!

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