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From Page to Screen: Adapting “Green Days by the River”

By Chanel Cain

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Michael Mooleedhar took a chance on himself when he left his desk job to go back to school. Having always had a flare for the creative, he enrolled in one of the first film programs offered in the Caribbean. His love of movies stemmed back to his time as an usher. His journey led him to adapt a beloved classic, while opening the door to other Trinidadian directors.

“Green Days By The River” is an adaptation of the book of the same name by Michael Anthony. The coming-of-age story follows a boy named Shellie who is charmed by two very different girls he meets soon after he moves. Written in 1967, the book has persisted as a beloved tale within Trinidad and Tobago, often read in literature classes.

Though Mooleedhar never got the chance to read the book in class, the story still found its way to him. Between other projects, the script for the adaptation was sent to him. At the time he felt he was not in the right headspace to direct the adaptation, and it sat for five years.

“The script was still around, and I was doing a bunch of other stuff and then like, it came back around in my mind, and then I guess I was in a different place,” Mooleedhar said.

And with that, the classic would find its way to the big screen.

For Mooleedhar, this project was more than just an adaptation. Translating a book to a film is no easy task, plus the added pressure of the book’s beloved past. His mission was to not only showcase the story, but to add to and shape the filmmaking language of the Caribbean.

“It was more about delivering something that was really good because knowing that not a lot of films are being made…they have very few adaptations of books in the Caribbean, almost like you don’t want to waste that. You want to like, approach this movie and deliver it as best they could,” Mooleedhar said.

The book’s author worked closely with the crew to help bring his story to life. Mooleedhar was focused on creating a visual experience that exudes the feeling of the Caribbean. Building those visual markers would help shape what the growing future of film would look like for other up and coming directors.

Once the film was finished, it began to make its rounds in film festivals. Because of it’s centrality to Trinidad and Tobago, Mooleedhar worried that foreign audiences would not care as much about the film.

That was not the case.

The glimpse into the Caribbean past he created captivated audiences around the globe. From the Caribbean to Sweden, the film’s unique style and perspective transported them somewhere new. Mooleedhar’s mission was accomplmished.

Finding a home on kweliTV, the film went on the be one of the most watched films of 2022. Mooleedhar’s dedication to giving his home a voice did not fall on deaf ears.

“I think on one level it was like a poem to the Caribbean or Trinidad and Tobago,” he said.

Watch “Green Days by the River” on kweliTV