On Friday 28 April, as part of the 2017 National Orders Awards, President Jacob Zuma bestowed the Order of the Companions of OR Tambo in Silver on French film director Euzhan Palcy. This order is the highest honour in South Africa for a foreign dignitary. It recognises eminent foreign nationals for friendship shown to South Africa.
Ms Euzhan Palcy was awarded “for her excellent contribution to the liberation struggle by exposing South African social injustices through an international film that strengthened the revolution against apartheid. Ms Euzhan Palcy raised awareness about South African social injustices by converting the anti-apartheid novel of Andre Brink: A Dry White Season (1989) into film. She travelled to South Africa defying the special section of the apartheid regime with the help of Dr Nthato Motlana, Nelson Mandela’s personal physician and friend, who smuggled her into Soweto undercover.
She risked her life to accurately portray apartheid in A Dry White Season and to give a voice to the oppressed South Africans. She convinced the studio to hire an all-South African black cast (rather than African-Americans) for the role of blacks. She made a revolution and made history in Hollywood”.
Palcy became the first black female director produced by a major Hollywood studio (MGM) and the only woman who succeeded in directing an anti-apartheid narrative feature film during the apartheid era.
Palcy is a Knight in the National Order of the French Legion of Honour since 2004; Officer in the National Order of Merit 2011, Knight of “Les Arts et des Lettres” since 1984. She was awarded the Medal of the city of Bordeaux in 2013. She received the Gold Medal of Martinique in 1990. She is Citizen of Honour of New York City, New Orleans, Sarasota and Atlanta.
President Jacob Zuma bestows the Order of the Companions of OR Tambo in Silver on French film director Euzhan Palcy.