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March 2008

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villagemonkey86 in rossif_fans

another Poor Boy's Game article.

'This film is Halifax': Poor Boy's writer
City plays a central role in Glover and Sutherland's movie about boxing, race - and redemption

The Daily News

What is the theme of Poor Boy's Game? It depends who you ask.

"It's funny. What is cool about this film is that you talk to different people and they have different feelings about what the film is about," Chaz Thorne said.

"That's the thing about a good film - it should provoke different feelings."

The Halifax filmmaker co-wrote the script for the movie, which premieres tonight at the Atlantic Film Festival. It's the story of a white boxer who, after being released from prison for brutally beating a black man, returns to his hometown.

He soon finds himself back in the boxing ring being trained by the father of the man he assaulted.

Rossif Sutherland - son of Donald - plays the boxer.

"The message for me was - at least my part of the story - was that is was somebody who realizes the only way you can live your life is if you are honest with who you are, where you have come from, and what you have done," Rossif Sutherland told The Daily News.

"He knew the only way to live a full life was not about starting over, but to continue from where you left off."

His dad disagrees.

"I got an e-mail from Donald Sutherland saying for him, the film is really about seeking redemption. And I was like, 'Yeah, absolutely," Thorne said. "For others, the film is about race. For others, class.

"For me, it is largely about forgiveness."

Thorne was inspired to write the script after his cousin, Michael Forsyth, was murdered in Spryfield in 1995.

"It got me thinking about race in this city, class and the justice system and all this stuff," Thorne said.

"It comes from growing up here. I just thought that I would like to see a film that talks about some of these issues, poses some questions and stimulates some dialogue about it."

Thorne pitched the story in Toronto in 2001, and attracted the attention of director Clement Virgo.

Race, class and family

"It dealt with the themes and aesthetics that interest Clement," Thorne said. "It was a story about race, boxing, family, brothers, working class, urban."

Along with Sutherland, the film also stars Tonya Lee Williams, Flex Alexander, Laura Regan and Danny Glover, who plays the father of the brutally beaten man.

"Working with Danny was probably the closest I've ever been to working with somebody the same calibre as my father," Sutherland said, adding he was an out of work at the time he auditioned. "I didn't think in a million years they would give the role to me.

"I was 30 pounds overweight, but Clement saw his boxer and trusted me with something he was working on for years. It was the beginning of a great adventure in my life."

To prepare for the role, Sutherland spent five hours a day for three months training in the ring.

'A different thing'

"It changed the way I walked, the way I stood, the way I spoke to people," he said.

"It is a different thing to be walking."

The film was not only shot in Halifax, the story was also set here.

The city is a character in the film, and it was important to Thorne that it stay like that.

"There is no way it could have been any other way," Thorne said.

"This film is Halifax, it is unique to Halifax. If a studio had come in and said, 'We don't want you to do this is Canada. It's a great script, we want you to do it in Chicago,' it wouldn't have been possible."