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Ms Euzhan Palcy – Martinique

The Order of the Companions of O.R. Tambo in

Ms Euzhan Palcy – Martinique Awarded for:
Her excellent contribution to the liberation struggle by exposing South African social injustices through an international film that strengthened the revolution against apartheid.
Ms Euzhan Palcy raised awareness about South African social injustices by converting the anti-apartheid novel of Andre Brink: A Dry White Season (1989) into film. 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 risked her life to accurately portray apartheid in A Dry White Season and to give a voice to the oppressed South Africans. She convinced the studio to hire an all-South African black cast (rather than African-American) for the role of blacks. She made a revolution and made history in Hollywood.

For this film Palcy successfully brought back Marlon Brando to the cinema screens. She received the Orson Welles Award for her outstanding work in Los Angeles in 1989. In a Washington Post interview “Apartheid through an angry lens” on 26 September 1989, Donna Britt writes: “Palcy approaches filmmaking and life the same way (Spike Lee and Costa Gavras).
This is a woman who never saw herself as a singer, but who cut an album of songs for local children because, “the only albums of song for children in Martinique were coming from  France.”

Palcy became the first black female director produced by a major Hollywood studio (MGM) and the only woman who succeeded in directing an anti-apartheid narrative feature film during the apartheid era.

If Gibson Kente’s How long (1976): a play filmed during the Soweto riots does not belong to the narrative feature film genre, Palcy may then be considered as the only black director in history to have directed an anti-apartheid narrative feature film during Nelson Mandela’s 27 years sentence and as a matter of fact, the first black director in the apartheid era.

Palcy was the only director in the apartheid era who succeeded to convince a Hollywood production to have only black South African cast (and not African-American or any other blacks) in an anti-apartheid narrative feature film.
She was already the first black person to win a Cesar (French Oscar) in 1984 and the first black person to win a Venice Film Festival Lion.

Palcy is a Knight in the National Order of the French Legion of Honour since 2004; Officer in the National Order of Merit 2011 (handed by President Nicolas Sarkozy), Knight of Les Arts et des Lettres since 1984 (handed by Minister of Culture Jack Lang).

She was awarded the Medal of the city of Bordeaux in 2013. She received the Gold Medal of Martinique in 1990. She is Citizen of Honour of New York City, New Orleans, Sarasotta and Atlanta.