In the New York Times article “Movie Stars Have Heroines, Too,” actors, directors and writers involved in this fall’s films write about the forerunners they admire. Multiple Emmy-winning actress Regina King speaks about Euzhan Palcy. Other segments include Rashida Jones on … Lena Horne, Olivia Wilde on … Amy Heckerling, Maggie Gyllenhaal on … Sarah Polley, Keira Knightley on … Sarah Polley, Sandi Tan on … Marrie Lee, and Tilda Swinton on … Kira Muratova, among others.
Regina King says, “Euzhan Palcy. I never even considered it was possible for a black woman to be directing on the main stage until ‘A Dry White Season.’” She is referring to the Martinican-born director and her 1989 film about the problems of apartheid in South Africa, starring Donald Sutherland, Susan Sarando, and Marlon Brando. Palcy won the Orson Welles award for this film.
Euzhan Palcy (biography abbreviated from the director’s page): 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. [. . .]
In 1992, she wrote and directed the musical and fantasy film Siméon with Kassav, the Godfathers of Zouk Music. Thereafter, 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). [. . .] 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. [. . .]
For full biography, see https://www.euzhanpalcy.net/about
For NYT article, see https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/14/movies/celebrity-women-movies-history.html