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Last Updated: Friday, 20 April 2007, 15:50 GMT 16:50 UK
Barbados cricket film hit for six
By Soutik Biswas
BBC News, Barbados

Barbados is celebrating the premiere of its first full-length feature film, titled Hit for Six, which ties in with the ongoing World Cup cricket tournament in the Caribbean.

Hit For Six
The film examines the hot topic of match-fixing

The film tells the story of a cricketer hit by match-fixing allegations.

Against the odds he wins back his place in the national team with the love and support of his various girlfriends.

Directed by Alison Saunders-Franklyn, a public relations consultant turned film-maker, the movie hypes itself as a pot pourri of "cricket, love and scandal".

The film - which cost US $770,000 (384,600) - is the most expensive one to be made on this affluent island, home to some 280,000 people, many of whom are hooked on Hollywood hits playing at two multi-screen theatres.

Alison Saunders-Franklyn
Director Alison Saunders-Franklyn (right) knows a lot about the game

It is also a welcome beginning for what is a fledgling film industry in Barbados which, according to local film-maker Mahmood Patel, has only four films to showcase - most of them documentaries shot on video.

Which is a little surprising considering a fairly thriving theatre scene on the island, and the popularity of video rental libraries.

But sadly, Hit for Six fails to live up to its heady plot-line with a largely sluggish script, uneven performances and its camp style.

Tourism boost

To give Saunders-Franklyn credit, it is a cleverly-timed film starring half a dozen West Indian cricket legends such as Everton Weekes, Wesley Hall, Joel Garner, Desmond Haynes and Gordon Greenidge in short cameos.

The director confesses to having been heavily influenced by Bollywood hit Lagaan, the 2001 monster hit about a group of Indian villagers taking on their colonial rulers with a game of cricket.

And she has managed to turn Hit For Six into something of a tourist promotion, capturing the Caribbean's spirit and verve.

Rudolph Walker
Rudolph Walker also stars in EastEnders

The film takes its cricketer hero - played by local actor Andrew Pilgrim - and his girlfriends to the carnival in Trinidad and the stunning beaches of St Lucia.

"It is a true celebration of regional talent and expertise and showcases the colourful and rich culture of our people, professionally packaged to unveil to the world," says Saunders-Franklyn.

"The film should be an inspiration to Caribbean cricket fans, especially in view of the current concerns about West Indian cricket," she adds.

Saunders-Franklyn clearly knows more than a bit about cricket having spent six years as a public relations consultant for the West Indies Cricket Board.

Homegrown talent

But the film's mix of cricket, match-fixing, love and intrigue only results in an amateurish feature, which is unlikely to find many takers outside the Caribbean.

The director does deserve credit, however, for persevering and completing a film with a cast and crew comprising of expatriate Caribbeans and a bunch of local amateurs.

The actor who stands out is British-based Trinidadian Rudolph Walker, who plays the cricketer's father, a former proud player who is bitter about the way the youngsters treat the game today.

Walker is best known as Patrick Trueman in British soap opera EastEnders.

The other players include a production designer who worked on Oliver Stone's World Trade Center and a former West Indian batsman as the film's cricket consultant.

Unfortunately, Hit For Six is an opportunity lost in taking on one of world cricket's biggest challenges - the increasing commercialisation of the sport - in the game's true spiritual home, the West Indies.

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