Film: Euzhan Palcy’s L’Ile veilleuse


As part of the graduate course Texturas Caribeñas [Caribbean Textures] the University of Havana will present the documentary directed by Martinican director Euzhan Palcy. The film is open to the public and will be followed by a discussion. It will be screened on April 9th at 3:00pm (Manuel Galich Room).

L’Ile veilleuse (The Vigilant Island) is Part 1 of a three-part study titled Aimé Césaire: Une voix pour l’histoire. [Parts 2 and 3 are Au rendez-vous de la conquête (Where the Edges of Conquest Meet) and La force de regarder demain (The Strength to Face Tomorrow).] This monumental work introduces the celebrated Martinican author, Aimé Césaire (1913-2008), who coined the term négritude and launched the literary movement called the “le grand cri nègre” [the Great Black Cry]. Palcy, internationally acclaimed director of Sugarcane Alley and A Dry White Season, weaves Césaire’s life and poetry into a vast tapestry featuring many of the most important artistic and intellectual figures of the past six decades. André Breton, the high priest of surrealism, describes Césaire as “a Black man who embodies not simply the Black race but all mankind, who will remain for me the prototype of human dignity.”

In L’Ile veilleuse, Césaire shows us his pays natale – its volcano, beaches and colonial towns – a tropical crossroads where Europe, Africa and America meet. From this cultural core, Césaire, his wife Suzanne, and philosopher René Menil founded the seminal literary review Tropiques in 1939, which influenced Caribbean intellectuals like Wifredo Lam, René Depestre and Frantz Fanon. After World War II, Césaire served as mayor of Fort-de-France and Martinique’s representative to the French National Assembly. He discusses the difficulty of balancing the life of a poet with that of a practical politician for over 50 years.

For full description of Palcy’s film, see

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