Filmmaker Mariette Monpierre recently showcased her first feature film “ELZA” at the Walter Reade Theatre in Lincoln Center in Manhattan as part of the African Film Festival.
A French Guadeloupean filmmaker, producer and director, Monpierre was born in Guadeloupe but raised in Paris. Educated at the Sorbonne at the University of Paris, Smith College in Massachusetts and NYU in N.Y., she later worked at the renowned ad agency, BBD&O, before venturing into the world of filmmaking. Byron Lewis, chairman of the African American owned Uniworld advertising agency acted as a consultant on Ms. Monpierre’s film.
“ELZA” is the first narrative by a Guadeloupean female director and thus it is noteworthy that Ms. Monpierre’s film won three awards at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angles. Ms. Monpierre won The Best Director First Feature: Special Jury Recognition – Feature Narrative at PAFF/LA; The Festival Choice Award at the Pan African Film Festival-British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA/LA); and The Festival Programmers’ Award – Narrative PAFFA/LA.
“I was so surprised when I heard my name called during the Awards Ceremony. I went up, accepted the award and returned to my seat. Then I heard my name called again. I started to cry. I couldn’t believe it! Once again, I accepted my award and went back to my seat and then unbelievably, I heard my name called for yet a third time. I was so happy. I couldn’t thank everyone enough for their involvement in the making of “ELZA.” It really was a labor of love and I am so delighted that my films won awards and were nominated in various movie categories,” said the ebullient filmmaker.
Through her film, “ELZA,” the story of a young Caribbean woman in search of her father, filmmaker Mariette Monpierre speaks out on behalf of young children whose fathers, for whatever reason, are absent from their families. Ms. Monpierre reveals through her character “ELZA,” the impact not having a father in the home has on children. A semi-autobiography, Mariette’s film speaks on behalf of the many fatherless children and the fantasies they conjure about the fathers they never knew. “Elza” seeks to make her deep desires, fantasies and dreams about the shadowy figure who occupies much of her thoughts a reality. Thus, she journeys to the lush island of Guadeloupe in the French West Indies to find the most important man in her life.
“I was very anxious to meet my absentee father,” explained the producer of her own experience. “Guadeloupe is a small island where everyone knows one another, so I was able to find him. I was very excited and young, so perhaps I didn’t handle it in the best way. I called my father. His wife answered the phone. I blurted out that I thought her husband was my father. She was very nice and said she understood. She invited me to meet her children and my father. I guess I had many expectations. However, when I finally met my father, he looked at me and said he didn’t think he could be my father because my hair was too kinky,” recalled the petite artist of her only in-person encounter with her father.