NL Gazette

A Labrador-born screenwriter has won a big victory in an international competition.

The Happy Valley-Goose Bay-born screenwriter receives a prestigious award from the organization that awards Oscars each year.

Byron Hamel, who currently lives in Winnipeg, is one of the five winners of this year’s Nicole Screenwriter Fellowship, a new film screenwriter award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Of the approximately 8,200 scripts (contest records) from 89 countries, Hamel won the only winner in Canada for his script “The Shade of the Grapefruit Tree.”

“I’m not going to pretend to be humble. My script is great,” he said in a recent interview with CBC Labrador Morning.

His first drama, Hamel’s script, is about a heavily abused white boy learning about robotics from a black landlady who is crazy about science fiction. 

The story is based on Hamel’s childhood, who grew up in the United States in the 1980s. His mother met a man trying to raise him through an Oregon church education program.

According to Hamel, the man moved to Palm Springs, California on the day he was released. The abuse began in 1981 when Hamel was four years old.

He remembers how his stepfather put his face on the barbecue grill and pressed jalapeno peppers into his nose, and what he called water torture.

Hamel remembers having to leave the edge of the pool to escape his stepfather, who was holding him underwater. The man had a tuft of Hamel’s hair, so he tore his tuft of hair from his head.

Another time, Hamel says, the man chased him around the house in a machete.

Hamel told that he has lost his childhood to this guy, who returned to Labrador as a teenager to be with his real father.

A few years later, Hamel learned that his stepfather, who had put himself in another family, tortured his baby and sentenced him to death in Alameda, California.

While reading the court file, Hamel discovered that what was done to him was also done to other children. Because of this, he said he was suffering from the sins of the survivors.

Read More: Screenwriter originally from Labrador wins big at international competition | CBC News

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