Elza’s mother Bernadette has tried hard to give her daughter everything. She is thrilled when Elza, the first college graduate in the family, completes her master’s degree. But Elza breaks her mother’s heart by running off to their native Guadeloupe in search of a distant childhood memory: the father she barely remembers. Based on director Mariette Monpierre’s own life experience, this feature debut captures the passion and contradictions of a family in transition while offering a rare insider’s view of Caribbean culture. This riveting 80-minute feature, filmed on location in Paris and the French West Indies, explores the emotional journey of a young Parisian woman who returns to her native island of Guadeloupe in search of the father she has never known.
Following the screening, a public discussion with Director Mariette Monpierre will take place, as well as a small reception in the cinema foyer.
With financial support by Senatskanzlei der Stadt Berlin.
Media Partners: Africiné, Adefra, SEV-Magazin, Zentrum Moderner Orient, Club der Freunde von RFI, Berlin Poche, rendez-vous-cine.de, Exberliner, multicult.fm, Art Labour Archives, Planète Métis, Contemporary &, Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland
“Like Elza the woman (ripely embodied by Stana Roumillac), “Elza” the movie is sensual, sun-kissed and emotionally secretive. Bathed in the flamingo colors and Caribbean rhythms of its location, this deeply personal debut from the writer and director Mariette Monpierre develops with a lingering attention to sensation and sound. (…) Effectively balancing these grimmer themes, Ms. Roumillac gives Elza a youthful, searching energy.” The New York Times Pick
“Elza” is a dazzling jewel that must be seen, chatted up, tweeted about and supported. It is an absolute winner!” New York Amsterdam News
“Cinematically stunning, “Elza” is an endearing, timely and important feature film about the changing Caribbean family. (…) while reveling in the island’s scenery and music, Monpierre also openly conveys the harshness of a class system based on color.” New York Amsterdam News
“Elza is a sumptuous, beguiling call to challenge the legacies of slavery — the early constructions of race and class codes that became social and economic realities both enforced and resisted for centuries. That a woman filmmaker is also looking at the ways that constructions of gender and a history of colonialism have complicated these spoken and unspoken laws of race and class — not to mention the ways that they have been inherited and implemented in film industries both national and global — is another astonishing feat.” By Diane Sippl, Kinocaviar
Awards & Nominations
Winner Best Picture, Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival, USA
Winner Paul Robeson Award, Best Picture of the Diaspora, FESPACO, Burkina Faso
Winner Best Narrative Feature, Roxbury International Film Festival, USA
Winner Best First Feature Special Jury Recognition, Pan African Film Festival, L.A.
Winner BAFTA Festival Choice and Festival Programmers’ Awards, PAFF, L.A.
Runner up Best International Feature, San Francisco Black Film Festival
Nominated for Best Picture and Best Screenplay, American Black Film Festival, Miami, USA
Nominated for Best Picture, UrbanWorld Film Festival, New York, USA
Nominated for Best Picture, BronzeLense Festival, Atlanta, USA
Nominated for Best Diaspora Feature, 2012 Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA), Niegeria
Nominated for Best Picture, French Afro-Caribbean Arts Awards, France
Nominated for Best Foreign Picture and Best Film at Black Reel Awards, USA
Relevance & Questions Raised
Elza’s lifelong desire to reunite with a father who abandoned her is widespread. An estimated 50% of African-American and Caribbean children are estranged from their fathers — a shocking number, given that in many cases these fathers are alive and have simply neglected their responsibility to their children. Is it a coincidence that in most cases these communities have a history of slavery wherein the father was forcibly taken from his family unit? Questions of skin color and ethnic appearance within the black culture are dramatically raised as the story of Elza, her father and his family unfolds with dazzling cinematography on the lush tropical island of Guadeloupe. The universal themes of this compelling film resonate immediately with audiences, and offer hope for future generations of fatherless children.
An intoxicating 14-song soundtrack is woven skillfully throughout the drama. Performers include renowned Caribbean musicians Stevy Mahy, Victor O, Dédé Saint Prix, Soft, Krys, Edith Lefel, Rodrigue Marcel, K’Koustik, Jenny Alfa, Malavoi, Neg’Marrons & Lynnsha, Rony Théophile. Musical theme composed by David Fackeure. Complete soundtrack is available on itunes and Amazon.
Discover the great music of Guadeloupe!
Mariette Monpierre began her career at BBDO New York producing commercials for Pepsi Cola, Visa, Campbell’s, Bayer, Pizza Hut, Gillette and FedEx. Her first short film “Rendez-Vous” had a successful run in several major international film festivals. ELZA is Monpierre’s first feature length film and the first narrative film by a female director shot in Guadeloupe.