TWO films from Euzhan Palcy, Sugarcane Alley (1983) and A Dry White Season (1989), will be showcased at the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF), which runs from July 16 to July 26.Palcy, who hails from Martinique, a French Caribbean Island, is known for being the first black woman director to produce a film with a major Hollywood studio (MGM) in the eighties.
Her film A Dry White Season (1989), adapted from the novel of the same name, by South African writer André Brink, will be screened on Mandela Day (July 18 at 8 pm) at Suncoast CineCentre. The film depicts the reality of apartheid, focusing on the social movements of South Africa and the Soweto riots. It was banned in SA for a time.
A Dry White Season centres on teacher Ben du Toit (Donald Sutherland), who mostly ignores the problems of apartheid in South Africa until he discovers that the son of a gardener (Winston Ntshona) at his school has been killed by corrupt policeman Stolz (Jürgen Prochnow). Du Toit persuades human rights attorney Ian McKenzie (Marlon Brando) to try the long-shot case against Stolz. During the trial, Du Toit’s transformation into an advocate for justice is so absolute that it distances him from his family.
Speaking about the film, which also stars Susan Sarandon, John Kani and Winston Ntshona, Diff director Pedro Pimenta said: “This film was made 25 years ago but it has not been screened in South Africa. It was made by a black woman from France who convinced Hollywood to finance an anti-apartheid film. This screening will pay tribute to Andre Brink who died earlier this year and to the brave South African actors who took great risks.”
Palcy’s second film, Sugarcane Alley can be seen at Suncoast on July 20 at 8 pm. Set in 1930, on a sugar cane plantation in Martinique, the film centres around José, a bright, mischievous 11-year-old, and his grandmother, a tough, wise woman determined to save him from the hard life she has known. When José wins a scholarship, she is ready to sacrifice everything for his chance at an education and an escape from the fields.
Full festival details can also be found at http://www.durbanfilmfest.co.za or by phoning 031 260 2506 or 031 260 1816.