The Colony of Unrequited Dreams

The Colony of Unrequited Dreams - Synopsis

Logline: Set in pre-confederate Newfoundland, where a childhood secret fuels a love/hate relationship between an ambitious politician and a smart-assed, hard drinking journalist. One is determined to hold onto the past, the other is hell-bent on forcing his homeland into the future.

Based on the best-selling novel by Wayne Johnston, The Colony of Unrequited Dreams tells the tale of Joe Smallwood’s rise from privation to absolute power. Born in 1900 on the eastern edge of the island, JOE SMALLWOOD is raised in dire poverty but dreams of achieving something as great as “New found land” itself.

While reporting on the annual seal harvest, he witnesses the local merchants’ thirst for profit when hundreds of men and boys freeze to death on the blood-soaked ice floes. Sickened and enraged, Smallwood heads to New York, embracing socialism as a reporter and vowing to return someday to knock the upper crust “quality” from their pedestals.

After years of struggle as a journalist, union leader, political organizer, radio host and pig farmer, Smallwood finally gets his shot at greatness in 1948 when he convinces the government to add a referendum option allowing Newfoundlanders a choice between independence and Confederation with Canada.

Taking up the unpopular banner for Canadian confederation, Smallwood leads a grassroots revolution against the heavy boot of the merchant class. He ultimately sells his soul, divides his family, forsakes his true love, and his island’s last chance for nationhood to become the Premier of Canada’s poorest province.

Through it all, Smallwood’s love interest and conscience, SHEILAGH FIELDING, challenges him every step of the way. They first meet at a private school from which they are both expelled; Smallwood accused of writing a letter smearing the school and Fielding inexplicably taking the blame. From that point on, their lives are intertwined, their passion and love for each other simmering beneath caustic wit and eruptions of anger.

Their relationship and Smallwood’s political destiny is also hampered by the bully GILBERT PROWSE, a boy born into privilege and power, who is more than willing to enjoy the fruits of Smallwood’s labours and to hamper his ambitions.

Fielding rejects her privileged life becoming a newspaper columnist and raging alcoholic. At first supportive of Smallwood’s ideals, she comes to see his blind ambition for what it is, and begins to publicly mock his every move in searing columns that attempt to turn the tide against his Canadian dream.

As Smallwood forsakes everything to feed his ambition and achieve his goals, Fielding struggles to protect him from one secret that torments them both – who wrote that letter all those years ago, what is Prowse’s role and why did Fielding take the blame?

  • Wayne Johnston
  • Jill Knox-Gosse
    Grown Up Movie Star, Relative Happiness, Atlantic
  • Lynne Wilson
    Relative Happiness, Love & Savagery, The BBQ, Young Triffie
  • Project Type:
  • Number of Pages:
  • Country of Origin:
  • Language:
  • First-time Screenwriter:
  • Student Project:
Writer Biography - Wayne Johnston

Angela Antle wrote the award winning, feature-length documentary “Atlantic”, narrated by Brendan Gleeson. Currently in its festival run, “Atlantic” looks at the impact of the oil industry on fishing communities in Newfoundland, Norway and Ireland.

She co-wrote, with Wayne Johnston, the film adaptation of “The Colony of Unrequited Dreams” and she’s currently developing a TV series called “Sparkling Futures” with Lisa Moore.

In 2012, “Looking for Love” a factual TV format Antle wrote and co-produced won the MIPTV Pitch contest in Cannes and landed a development deal with Warner Brothers International. Antle also co-created and produced the factual W Network Series “Majumder Manor” and the accompanying HBO feature documentary “Every Word is Absolutely True.”

Antle is a TV producer and radio host at CBC. She’s written for the Sundance TV blog and is vice-chair of “The St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival” and co-host of “The Writers at Woody Point Festival.”

Add Writer Biography