ABOUT

EUZHAN PALCY

BIOGRAPHY &

FILMOGRAPHY

 

EUZHAN PALCY'S

BIOGRAPHY

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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.

 

[...]

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The first black female director produced by

a major Hollywood studio (MGM)

 

COMPLETE

BIOGRAPHY

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A_DRY_WHITE_SEASON_Poster_criterion_larg

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 film went on to win the Silver Lion and Best Actress Award at the Venice Film Festival and the prestigious Cesar Award (French Academy Award) for best first film, making Euzhan Palcy the first woman and the first black director (male or female) to be granted this prestigious award.  

In 1989, she wrote and directed the anti-apartheid film “A Dry White Season” and became the first black female director produced by a major Hollywood studio (MGM).

 

She successfully brought Marlon Brando back to the cinema screens as an anti-apartheid lawyer alongside Donald Sutherland, Susan Sarandon, Janet Suzman and Jürgen Prochnow.


To make an accurate portrait, she risked her life and traveled to South Africa, defying the secret services of the apartheid regime with the help of Dr. Nthato Motlana, Nelson Mandela’s physician and friend who smuggled her in Soweto. She posed as an undercover recording artist looking for choristers while she interviewed secretly, in reality, the victims of the apartheid regime.

To give a voice to oppressed South Africans, she convinced the studio to hire an all-South-African black cast (Zakes Mokae, Winston Ntshona, John Kani, Thoko Ntshinga). .MGM released A Dry White Season in September 1989. The South Africa regime prohibited the film, enraged by the truths exposed to what they were doing to the people who opposed them.

Euzhan Palcy is the only woman and the only black director (male or female) who succeeded to direct an anti-apartheid narrative feature film during Nelson Mandela’s 27 years in prison. 

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 woman and 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 of London 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. 

In 2013, Euzhan Palcy is awarded the Honorary Henri Langlois World Cinema Prize. The same year she presided FESPACO (Pan-African Film Festival of Ouagougou) Grand Jury. It is a first for a woman.
Siméon is part of the Cannes Classics official selection to celebrate Aimé Césaire's centenary of birth.

On June 1, 2014 French President Francois Hollande hosted the presidential screening of Parcours de Dissidents (The Journey Of The Dissidents) at the Elysée Palace  to launch the National Tribute to "the Dissidents" and the 70th anniversary of  WWII Normandy and Provence landings.

The heros in her film aka 'The Dissidents'  received a full week of tributes at the Invalides, the National Assembly, the Senate, the Panthéon and in Normandy.

On April 28, Freedom Day 2017, the Republic of South Africa bestowed upon Euzhan Palcy the Order of the Companions of Oliver Reginald Tambo “for her excellent contribution to the liberation struggle by exposing South African social injustices through an international film (A DRY WHITE SEASON) that strengthened the revolution against apartheid”. This order is the highest honor in South Africa for a foreign dignitary. 

 

On March 8, 2018, The Telegraph included Euzhan in its all-time list of 35 Women who changed the history of cinema while The International Slavery Museum of Liverpool inducted her on its Black Achiever’s Wall as part of its commemoration of the centennial of the woman’s vote.

 

For Women's Month 2019, The Wrap included Euzhan Palcy in its all-time list of '17 Women Who Revolutionized Hollywood'. S 

For Women's Month 2021 Toronto International Film Festival made Euzhan Palcy its new 'Share Her Journey Ambassador'

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. 

 

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 Palcy throughout the promotion of the film.

 

When the promotion was over, she returned home to Paris exhausted 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.

MAYA ANGELOU

(1928 - 2014) author, poet, and civil rights activist

Roger Ebert

SOME

DISTINCTIONS

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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 the Order of Oliver R. Tambo (South-Africa) 

Holder of the keys to New York, New Orleans, Atlanta & Sarasotta.
Gold Medal of Martinique

2021 Toronto International Film Festival 'Share Her Journey' Ambassador

2019 Inductee on the June Caribbean-American Heritage Wall of Fame

2018 Inductee on the Black Achiever's Wall of the International Slavery Museum of Liverpool for the Centenary of the Women's Vote in the UK.

2019 The WRAP: 17 Women Who Revolutionized Hollywood (All-time list)
2016 Sabela International Recognition Award (South Africa Honorary Award) 

2015 Tribute to Euzhan Palcy by the American Cinematheque

2013  Unveiling of the Euzhan Palcy road

2013  Henri Langlois World Cinema Honor 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  Cannes Film Festival's Tribute to Euzhan Palcy

2010  The Most Powerful Black Women in Europe

1994  John Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Arts

1990  Candace Award 'Trailblazer'

1989  People magazine's 10 Most Inspiring Women

1989  First black female director produced by a major Hollywood studio

1984  First woman and first black director winner of a French Oscar

1983  First black winner of a Venice Film Festival Silver Lion

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COMPLETE

FILMOGRAPHY

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2015  My Chat with President Mandela

 

2014  Saving Nadine 

 

2011  Synoptic short for the National Tribute of France to Aime Cesaire at the Panthéon .the film introduced former French President Nicolas Sarkozy 's eulogy.

 

2010  The Journey of the Dissidents & the French West Indian WWII Resistance fighters 
DVD: 8h30 of film.

 

2008  Césaire / Senghor: l’Ami Fondamental

 

2007  The Brides of Bourbon Island

 

2006  The Journey of the Dissidents

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

President Clinton  introduced the film on ABC from the White House

 

1994  Aimé Césaire : A Voice For History

Reissued Aimé Césaire A Voice the 21st Century

 

1992  Siméon

 

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)

 

AWARDS

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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

Marlon Brando

1990  Tokyo International Film Festival

Best Actor Award

1985  Fespaco Audience  Award / First movie to receive the award

1985  Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame

Award

1984  Houston International WordFest    
 
Special Jury Award

1984  César for Best First Film*

1983  Venice Film Festival Silver 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 Black People Insitute
 Award

1993  Brussels International Fantasy 

           Film Festival Silver Raven Award

1993  Philadelphia Festival of World

           Cinema: Audience 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

 

HONORS

(PARTIAL LIST)

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2021

International Women's Day - Toronto International Film Festival 'Share Her Journey' Ambassador

2019

Caribbean American Heritage (CARAH) Luminary Award

2019

Montreal Black Film Festival Pioneer Award 

2019

June Caribbean-American Heritage Wall of Fame.

2018 

March 8, Centenary of the Women's Vote in the UK International Slavery Museum Black Achiever's Wall Honouree

2016

First Cannes Positive Cinema Week Lifetime Achievement Award 

2015

July 19 - Sabela International Recognition Award for her exceptional contribution to the South African Film Industry 

 

2015

July  18 - Mandela Day – Durban International Film Festival Special screening for the 25th Anniversary of A Dry White Season

 

2015

Guest of Honour of the 5th Paris - Champs Elysees Film Festival with William Friedkin & Alan Parker

 

2015

Tribute to Euzhan Palcy by the American Cinematheque

 

2014

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

1997

Naming of the Euzhan Palcy junior high school in Martinique

 

1994

John Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Arts

 

1990

Candace Award by the Coalition of the 100 Black Women at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (with Dr Maya Angelou & Judith Jamison)

 

1989

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.

2013

Henri Langlois World Cinema Honour Award

 

2013

Unveiling of the Euzhan Palcy road in Martinique

2011

Opening of the Women’s Forum for the Economy & Society (aka Davos for Women)

2011

17 Most Influential Women of the Planet by ELLE.fr

2011

Filmmaker in Focus: Euzhan Palcy, the retrospective by the Museum of Modern Art of New York City

 

2011

Tribute to Euzhan Palcy by the Cannes Film Festival

 

2010

The Most Powerful Black Women in Europe, the Powerlist

 

2008

Cinema Verite Prize, Commitment (with Nobel Laureate for Peace Pr. Wangari Maathaï & Jane Fonda)

 

2009

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)

 

2007

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 Bicentenary of the Abolition of the British Slave Trade Act 1807

 

2000

Inauguration of the Euzhan Palcy cinema & stage theatre in Picardy Region in France

 

1998

Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame