This weekend commemorates the 25th anniversary of the theatrical release of Martinican director Euzhan Palcy’s anti-apartheid film A Dry White Season (1989) and the return of Marlon Brando to the big screen. The film’s anniversary commemoration and screenings will begin in France on November 9, 2014. Her staff put together the information below, providing interesting details about the director and the process of filming A Dry White Season.
Euzhan Palcy is the first black director produced by a major Hollywood studio. She is also the only black director (male of female) who managed to produce a feature film about apartheid in the United States during the 27 years of imprisonment of Nelson Mandela. Furthermore, she is the filmmaker who brought Marlon Brando back to working on film and the only woman who has directed him.
To prepare for this film, Palcy, like Mata Hari, tricked the secret services of the Apartheid regime and went to Soweto (thanks to Dr. Motlana, Mandela’s doctor), by posing as a singer looking for backup group for her new album. Palcy then secretly interviewed the residents of Soweto and left South Africa with taped recordings fastened under her clothing.
With the raw material she [co]wrote and directed the film with a stellar cast: Donald Sutherland (Canada), Susan Sarandon (USA), Marlon Brando (USA), Sir Michael Gambon (GB), Jurgen Prochnow (Germany) which, unlike the other films, relied heavily on South Africans actors: Zakes Mokae, Winston Ntshona, John Kani, Thoko Nsthinga, Dame Janet Suzman, and others. This was part of the filmmaker’s commitment.
The film enraged the South African government, which forbade the film. On February 11, 1990, Nelson Mandela was released from prison. On March 30, 1990, the South African government announced the lifting of the ban of the book “Nelson Mandela: The struggle is my life,” the first autobiography by the anti-apartheid leader and Palcy’s A Dry White Season.
A Dry White Season
Director: Euzhan Palcy
Screenplay: Colin Welland and Euzhan Palcy
Studio: Metro Goldwyn Mayer
Orson Welles Award for Euzhan Palcy.
Eighth and final Oscar nomination for Marlon Brando.
Translated from the original French text: https://www.facebook.com/euzhan.palcy.73?fref=ts
[Photos: Top from http://www.region-martinique.mq/blog/cannes-rend-hommage-a-euzhan-palcy/; bottom, from http://www.filmreference.com/Directors-Mi-Pe/Palcy-Euzhan.html]