Nova Scotia

Film explores Halifax's dark side

A movie being shot in Halifax is delving into the city's subculture of drugs, dirty money and violence.

A movie being shot in Halifax is delving into the city's subculture of drugs, dirty money and violence.

Writer and director Michael Melski said he wanted to make a film that told real stories about the Maritimes, not just the tartan smiles that dominate tourism advertisements and brochures.

"For me, it's a panoramic of Halifax today as one of the most violent cities in Canada — the swarmings, the biker invasions from central Canada, its hard drug culture," he said.

"These are things we read about, but we don't often see in film from the Maritimes. We are actually shooting in real neighbourhoods in Fairview and Spryfield and the North End and Dartmouth, where these actions are taking place."

Charlie Zone is the story of a failed boxer hired to abduct a runaway teenager living in a North End Halifax crack house and return her to her family. Melski said the characters he is bringing to the screen walk the streets of Halifax every day, but are unnoticed by most of its residents.

"The core truths about what is going on in the city and in the lives of these characters, it's very real and it's very Halifax, whether people want to believe it or not," he said.

Growing Op

Melski was behind Growing Op, the 2008 dramatic comedy about a family who runs a marijuana business in their suburban home.

The Sydney, N.S., native said he is drawn to crime and violence and he wants moviegoers to see that side of Halifax.

"It's very much beneath the eyeline of Spring Garden Road and Argyle Street, but it is a side of Halifax that exists simultaneously. Whenever people are partying downtown in Halifax, there's a lot of other things going on in the city and this movie is about what those other parts are," he said.

Melski expects some backlash for his portrayal of the Maritime port city, but he hopes people will take the time to watch and come away with a better understanding of the violence plaguing Halifax today.

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