euzhan palcy – the other black experience
February 3, 2010
First Black woman to direct a feature film for a major Hollywood studio.
Euzhan Palcy is an award-winning film director from Martinique whose movies often deal with resistance to oppression. She believes that filmmakers have a responsibilty. “We can show people a situation – shed light on it without preaching”.
Palcy moved to Paris in 1975 to study literature and cinema. To convince investors to finance her first full-length movie, she had to showcase her talents and directed the short film The Devil’s Workshop in 1981-2.
In 1983, her film Rue Cases Negres, dealing with slavery in Martinique and based on a classic novel by Joseph Zobel, won the prestigious Silver Lion award for Best First Work at the Venice Film Festival.
In 1989, she directed the major feature film A Dry White Season, about the atrocities of apartheid, starring Marlon Brando and Donald Sutherland (Brando was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe for his role in the movie).
In 1994, Palcy directed a documentary about world-renowned activist and politician Aime Cesaire: “Aime Cesaire: A Voice For History”. She went on to direct films for television, including Ruby Bridges (1998), about an African-American girl who, in 1960 at age 6, helped to integrate the all-white schools of New Orleans. In 2001, she directed The Killing Yard about the 1971 Attica Prison riots.
She is currently developing various film projects, which reportedly include “Midnight’s Last Ride”, a poignant, funny story about an illiterate ex-rodeo champion.
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