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 NY; she later worked at the renowned ad agency BBD&O, before venturing into the world of filmmaking.
Mariette is premiering her film, ELZA, at the Walter Reade Theatre within Lincoln Center as part of the African Film Festival screening on Thursday, April 12th at 4:00 pm and on Sunday, April 15th at 6:15 pm.
ELZA is the first narrative by a Guadeloupean female director and thus its 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.
Set in the lush tropics, Mariette filmed her movie in her homeland of Guadeloupe, where the waters are clear and tropical climes so fair, the movie serves to draw tourism to the beautiful, friendly isle.
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 right 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 told me he did not think he could be my father, because he would not have fathered a daughter who had kinky hair like mine,” recalled the petite artist of her only in-person encounter with her father. “Our relationship never got as close as I would have liked. My father never recanted his initial comment to me and continued to behave in an authoritative manner toward me. He died a year later,” recalled Mariette with a haunted tone in her voice.
“I wanted to give Elza a more positive outcome. I hope the film will prompt fathers to be in their children’s lives,” continued Mariette. “I think its especially important, especially with girls. I think I had a lot of low esteem issues. I never had a father to tell me I was beautiful so I never felt beautiful. Oftentimes when women do not have a positive relationship with the first man in her life (their father), women may not know how to interact with men and therefore can end up choosing the wrong men in their lives.”
ELZA is Ms. Monpierre’s first feature film. She produced several documentaries, educational and musical videos as well as award winning shorts, like “Rendez-Vous” and “Sweet Mickey for President.” Her films have been screened at the Marrakech Film Festival, the African Diaspora Film Festival and featured at festivals in Toronto and in Cannes.
The driving force behind the film, Mariette desires to tell interesting and provocative stories and tales about women from an inventive and unique viewpoint as only she can tell them. Her goal is to acquire the distribution and the funds that will allow her to expose ELZA and her other films to a world-wide audience.
Interested parties can call the Walter Reade Box Office for tickets to see ELZA at (212) 875-5601. For further info see: