Last year, Criterion was proud to welcome Euzhan Palcy into the Collection, as we released her remarkable 1989 film A Dry White Season, an unflinching indictment of South African apartheid. During a visit to our office while work on the edition was underway, Palcy took the opportunity to duck into our closet, where the trailblazing Martinican—the first black woman to direct a Hollywood studio movie—paid tribute to some of the films and filmmakers nearest and dearest to her. After planting a kiss on the cover of our Trilogía de Guillermo del Toro, Palcy picked up The 400 Blows, leading her to share some moving personal reminiscences of François Truffaut, who offered Palcy invaluable advice on the script for what would become her first film, Sugar Cane Alley. She went on to marvel at the storytelling of Alfred Hitchcock, the spare beauty of Kaneto Shindo’s The Naked Island, and the film that, more than any other, encouraged her to become a filmmaker: Marcel Camus’s Black Orpheus. For her amazing recollections of seeing the film for the first time as a young girl in the Caribbean—where audiences clamored to see its black actors on the screen—watch to the end of the video above.
Leslie Harris’s Closet Picks
With her groundbreaking debut film, Just Another Girl on the I.R.T., now on the Criterion Channel, the director stopped by to talk about the movies that loom large in her personal canon.