Sugar Cane Alley

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Sugar Cane Alley
Sugar Cane Alley Poster.jpg
Directed by Euzhan Palcy
Written by Euzhan Palcy
Based on Sugar Cane Alley by Joseph Zobel
Music by Groupe Malavoi
Cinematography Dominique Chapuis
Edited by Marie-Josèphe Yoyotte
NEF Diffusion
Orca Productions
Distributed by Nouvelles Éditions de Films (NEF)
Running time 103 minutes
Country France
Language French

Sugar Cane Alley (French title: La Rue Cases-Nègres) is a 1983 film directed by Euzhan Palcy. It is set in Martinique in the 1930s, where blacks working sugarcane fields were still treated harshly by the white ruling class. It is based on a semi-autobiographical novel by Joseph Zobel of the same name, or, alternatively titled Black Shack Alley.


José, the protagonist, is a young boy who wins a partial scholarship to attend high school in Fort-de-France, the capital. His grandmother accompanies him there, working as a laundrywoman for the rich white ruling class to pay for costs. José deals with pressure around him, especially from one of his teachers. When he writes an essay on the lives of poor blacks he is accused of plagiarism, so he runs away from school, back to his small shack in the city. The teacher professor goes to his house and tells José that he was wrongly accused, offering an apology. Later José returns to Black Shack Alley after his grandmother has a heart attack while returning home from a trip to a local clothesmaker to make José a fresh suit. As his grandmother dies, José is launched into a future he cannot control.


17 international Awards. The film swept the César Awards (the equivalent of the Academy Award in France), and won four awards at the 40th Venice Film Festival., including the Silver Lion. The actress, Darling Légitimus, 76 years old at this period, won the Prize of Best Actress (Gold Lion). The film won also the Venice Film Festival Unicef Award and the International Catholic Organization for Cinema and Audiovisual (OCIC) award. In America, it won the First Prize Critics Award at the Worldfest-Houston International Film Festival. In Africa it won the first Public Award at the Fespaco.

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