Born in Martinique, Euzhan Palcy is a film director, writer and producer. In 1983, she directed Sugar Cane Alley (Rue Cases Nègres) putting the French West Indies on cinema’s world stages. This critically acclaimed movie went on to win the prestigious Cesar award (French Academy Award) for best first film making Euzhan Palcy the first black director (male or female) to be granted this prestigious award.
Sugar Cane Alley (Rue Cases Nègres) won more than 17 international awards including the Silver
Lion and Best Actress awards at the Venice Film Festival.
The first black female director produced by
a major Hollywood studio (MGM)
Born in Martinique, Euzhan Palcy is a film director, writer and producer. In 1983, she directed Sugar Cane Alley (Rue Cases Nègres) putting the French West Indies on cinema’s world stages. This critically acclaimed movie went on to win the prestigious Cesar award (French Academy Award) for best first film making Euzhan Palcy the first black director (male or female) to be granted this prestigious award. Sugar Cane Alley (Rue Cases Nègres) won more than 17 international awards including the Silver Lion and Best Actress awards at the Venice Film Festival.
Euzhan Palcy successfully brought back Marlon Brando to cinema screens with the anti-apartheid film, A Dry White Season. She travelled to South Africa defying the special section of the apartheid regime with the help of Dr. Nthato
Motlana, Nelson Mandela’s personal physician and friend, who smuggled her into Soweto undercover. She received the Orson Welles award for this film in Los Angeles in 1989.
After his historic release from Robben Island in 1990, the newly elected President Mandela watched the film and invited her to South Africa in 1995 (during the first anniversary of his election). Therefore, she directed and produced the never before seen interview titled My Chat with President Nelson Mandela.
The first black director (male or female)
to have won a César — French Oscar
In 1992, she wrote and directed the musical and fantasy film Siméon with Kassav, the Godfathers of Zouk Music. There after she filmed the documentary trilogy Aimé Césaire : A Voice For History (1994, reissued in 2006 as Aimé Césaire : A Voice For The 21st Century ) and directed and co-produced Ruby Bridges (Disney, 1998). At the movie’s premiere President Bill Clinton and Disney CEO Michael Eisner introduced the movie. The film The Killing Yard (Paramount/Showtime) followed in 2001. She received a Silver Gavel Award for “Best Film About Justice” by The American Bar Association. Her films have undoubtedly had a huge impact initiating humanitarian efforts globally for causes extremely important to her core values as a filmmaker and person. She is currently a distinguished recipient of the French Legion of Honor for her work and social causes.
In 2006, she directed the French documentary Parcours de Dissidents (The Journey Of The Dissidents)
which tells the incredible story of 5,000 French West Indians, young fighters (boys and girls) during
World War II. Her struggle for their national recognition was officially acknowledged by former French President Nicolas Sarkozy who presented to her France’s highest award : the Legion of Honor on behalf
of all those courageous war veterans.
In 2007, she directed the historical drama, The Brides Of Bourbon Island (Les Mariées de L'Île Bourbon), about the colonization of the Reunion Island during the 17th century. That same year to mark the Bicentennial of the 1807 Abolition of Slave Trade Act in the UK, The National Maritime Museum screened her movie Sugar Cane Alley (Rue Cases Nègres). In a poll by the BBC/British Film Institute’ citing The 100 most Iconic Black Screen Icons of the Last 100 years, Euzhan Palcy ranked among the top three in both the female and director's categories.
In 2011, President Sarkozy asked her to direct the film that launched France’s National Tribute to Aimé Cesaire at the Pantheon ; Cannes Film Festival and the MoMA (New York City's Museum of Modern Art) honored her for this work. Later that year, Palcy was decorated with the Officer Medal of National Order of Merit by President Sarkozy.
On June 1, 2014, for the 70th anniversary of WWII Normandy and Provence landings, President Hollande hosted the presidential screening of Parcours de Dissidents (The Journey Of The Dissidents) at the Elysée Palace as a National Tribute to the Dissidents. The heros in her film received a full week of tributes at the Invalides, the National Assembly, the Senate, the Panthéon and in Normandy.
Euzhan Palcy‘s films have undoubtedly a huge impact initiating humanitarian efforts globally for causes extremely important to her core values as a filmmaker and a person.
She manages her time between her humanitarian work (helping disabled or very ill young people to rebuild themselves and achieve their dreams) and the development of new European and American film projects.
The Filmmaker holds the keys to the cities of New York, Atlanta, New Orleans and Sarassota, Fl. In France, she is a distinguished recipient of the French Legion of Honor for her work and social causes. A high school, a movie theater and a road bear her name.
Euzhan Palcy is the only black director (male or female) to get a feature film produced about apartheid in the United States during Nelson Mandela’s 27 years in prison. She is also the only woman in the world who managed to direct a narrative feature film during South Africa’s apartheid period.
Euzhan wanted A Dry White Season to be "Cinema Verité" — that is to reflect the truth — at all costs. She was so passionate about creating an accurate portrayal that she traveled to Soweto undercover to research the riots. With a false cover of a recording artist looking for singers for her new album she was secretly interviewing victims of the apartheid regime thus eluding the South African secret services. The regime felt particularly threatened at this time and had stepped up it’s actions against the opposition. By the year 1988, they showed their ability to kill anybody. On March 29, 1988, walking out of her Paris office, Dulcie September was assassinated, shot five times from behind
with silencers. The South African anti-apartheid political activist was the Chief Representative
in France, Switzerland and Luxembourg of the African National Congress (ANC).
In the midst of this era of terror just four weeks later on April 28, 1988, Euzhan began principal photography of A Dry White Season, 300 miles from the South Africa frontier in neightbourhing Zimbabwe. The French black female filmmaker was protected by two bodyguards throughout the shoot. The set was completely closed, prohibited to anyone not directly involved with the filming, especially journalists.
A Dry White Season was finally released in September, 1989. South Africa banned it, enraged by the truths exposed of what they were actually doing to the people who opposed them. MGM had to continue engaging the two bodyguards to protect Euzhan throughout the promotion of the film. She was prohibited among other things to go home alone after 10pm.
When the promotion was over, the director returned home to Paris exhaused and depressed. The filming had been tough and she was especially haunted by the testimonies of apartheid victims.
She remained in this state for almost two years until the writing of Siméon gave her the spark.
I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
(1928 - 2014) author, poet, and civil rights activist
Knight of the National Order of the Legion of Honor (France)
Officer of the National Order of Merit
Knight of Les Arts et des Lettres
Grand Companion of OR Tambo (South-Africa)
Honorary Citizen of New York, New Orleans, Atlanta & Sarasotta.
Gold Medal of Martinique
2018 10 Black Women Achievers for the Centenary of the Women's Vote in the UK (International Slavery Museum of Liverpool)
2018 The Telegraph (UK) 35 Women who changed the History of Cinema
2016 The WRAP Women's Month: 17 Women Who Revolutionized Hollywood
2015 Tribute to Euzhan Palcy by the American Cinematheque
2013 Unveiling of the Euzhan Palcy road
2013 Henri Langlois World Cinema Honour Award
2013 First woman President of the Fespaco Grand Jury
2011 Elle.fr magazine's 17 Most Influential Women of the Planet
2011 Euzhan Palcy's Retrospective at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
2011 Tribute to Euzhan Palcy by Cannes Film Festival
2010 The Most Powerful Black Women in Europe
1994 John Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Arts
1989 People magazine's 10 Most Inspiring Women
1989 First black female director produced by a major Hollywood studio
1984 First black director winner of a French Oscar
1983 First black winner of a Venice Film Festival Lion
2015 My Chat with President Mandela
2014 Saving Nadine
2011 Aimé Césaire
Short film portrait for the National Tribute of France at the Panthéon.
An excerpt of Aimé Césaire : A Voice for History introduced the eulogy
of French President Sarkozy for the National Tribute of France to
Aimé Césaire at the Panthéon.
& French West Indian DVD collector 8h30 of video
2008 Césaire / Senghor : l’Ami Fondamental
Hosted by French President Hollande in 2014 at the Élysée Palace for
the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Normandy and
Provence WWII Landings.
2001 The Killing Yard
Best film about Justice by the American bar Association
1998 Ruby Bridges
The film was introduced by President Clinton on ABC from the White House.
Reissued Aimé Césaire A Voice the 21st Century
1990 "How are the Kids" / Hassane
A UNICEF & Red Cross-sponsored six-films anthology depicting
childhood horrors around the world produced for the signature
of the UN convention for the rights of children
(with Jerry Lewis, Jean-Luc Godard…)
1989 A Dry White Season
A Dry White Season was screened by President Mandela. He then invited
Euzhan Palcy to visit him for a week in South Africa.
1983 Sugar Cane Alley
1982 The Devil’s Workshop (short film)
1975 The Messenger (short film)
1990 Orson Welles Award
1990 Tokyo International Film Festival
Grand Prix nominee
1990 Political Film Society Award for
Human Rights nominee
1990 Chicago Film Critics Association
Best Film award nominee
1990 Academy Award, Golden Globe
& BAFTA nomination for
1990 Tokyo International Film Festival
Best Actor Award
1985 Fespaco Public Award / First movie
to receive the award
1985 Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame
1984 Houston International WordFest /
Special Jury Award
1984 César for Best First Film*
1983 Venice Film Festival Silver Lion*
1983 Nominated to the Golden Lion*
1983 Best Actress Award*
1983 Unicef Prize
1983 OCIC Award (Now Signis award)
* First for a black director
2013 Cannes Classics official selection
1995 Fespaco Thomas Sankara Award
1993 Brussels International Fantasy
Film Festival : Silver Raven Award
1993 Philadelphia Festival of World
Cinema: Public Award
1993 Montreal Vue d’Afrique Film festival
Ban Zil Kreyol award
1993 Milan Film Festival Youth Award
2002 Silver Gavel Award by the
American Bar Association
1999 Christopher Award
1998 Humanitas Prize (for screenwriter)
1999 National Educational Media
Network / Gold Apple Award
1999 Young Artist Award / Best
Performance by ayoung artist under 10
1999 Young Artist Award Best
Performance - young ensemble nominee
1999 Image Award nominee
1999 Young Star awards nominee
1999 American Cinema Editors nominee
1997 National Black Programming
Award of Excellence
Sabela International Recognition award for exceptionnal contribution to the South African Film Industry
25th Anniversary of A Dry White Season – Mandela Day – Durban International Film Festival
Guest of Honour of the Paris - Champs Elysees Film Festival with William Friedkin & Alan Parker
Tribute to Euzhan Palcy by the American Cinematheque
Screening of the Journey of the Dissidents at the French Presidential Palace hosted by President Hollande for the 70th anniversary of the WWII D-Day & Provence landings
Henri Langlois World Cinema Honour Award
Unveiling of the Euzhan Palcy road in Martinique
17 Most Influential Women of the Planet by elle.fr
Opening of the Women’s Forum for the Economy & Society (aka Davos for Women)
Naming of the Euzhan Palcy junior high school in Martinique
John Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Arts
Candace Award by the Coalition of the 100 Black Women at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (with Dr Maya Angelou & Judith Jamison)
Glamour’s 10 Most Inspiring Women of the Year (with Diane Sawyer, Iris Long, Takado Doi : the highest ranking Japanese female politician in modern history…)
Medal of the City of Bordeaux given by mayor Alain Juppe (2013)
Officer of the National of Order of Merit given by President Sarkozy (2011)
Knight of the National Order of the Legion d’Honneur (2004)
Knight of the National of Order of Merit (1994)
Knight of the National Order des Arts et des Lettres (1984)
Gold Medal of Martinique (First recipient)
Honorary Citizen of New York,
New Orleans, Atlanta & Sarasotta.
Filmmaker in Focus: Euzhan Palcy, the retrospective by the Museum of Modern Art of New York City
Tribute to Euzhan Palcy by the Cannes Film Festival
The Most Powerful Black Women in Europe, the Powerlist
Cinema Verite Prize, Commitment (with Nobel Laureate for Peace Pr. Wangari Maathaï & Jane Fonda)
Unita Blackwell Award by the U.S. National Conference of Black Mayors (with Dorothy Dandridge, Jesse Jackson & Minister of Culture of Colombia Paula Marcela Moreno Zapata)
Rank #3 - BBC/BFI poll: The 100 Black Screen Icons of the last hundred years
March 25, 2007
Launch the Euzhan Palcy Retrospective at the National Maritime Museum / Royal Museums for the Bicentennial of the 1807 Abolition of the British Slave Trade Act
Inauguration of the Euzhan Palcy cinema & stage theatre in Picardy Region in France
Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame