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Aime Cesaire: A Voice for History

Aimé Césaire: A Voice for History is a documenation trilogy by Euzhan Palcy.

Euzhan Palcy pays tribute to her mentor, great civil rights activist and Négritude movement co-founder Aimé Césaire, in this three-part bio-documentary.

This monumental, three-part study introduces audiences to the celebrated Martinican author who coined the term "négritude" and launched the movement called the "Great Black Cry". Euzhan weaves Césaire's life and poetry into a vast tapestry featuring many of the most important world-renowned artistic and intellectual figures of the past six decades. André Breton, the high priest of surrealism, described Césaire as "a black man who embodies not simply the black race but all mankind, who will remain for me the prototype of human dignity."

In Part I L'Île Veilleuse (The Vigilant Island), Césaire shows us his "pays natale", it’s volcano, beaches and colonial towns; a tropical crossroads where Europe, Africa and America meet. From this cultural vortex, Césaire, his wife, Suzanne, and philosopher René Menil founded the seminal literary review Tropiques in 1939 which influenced Caribbean intellectuals like Wifredo Lam, René Depestre and Frantz Fanon. After the WWII, Césaire served as Mayor of Fort-de-France and Martinique's representative to the French National Assembly. He discusses the difficulty of balancing the life of a poet with that of a practical politician for over 50 years.

Part II, Au rendez-vous de la conquête (Where the Edges of Conquest Meet) moves to Paris in the 1930s where Césaire, Leopold Senghor (first President of Senegal) and the French-Guyanese poet, Léon Damas, developed the concept of negritude, a world-wide revindication of African values.  Noted historian/scholar John Henrik Clarke and Howard Dodson of the Schomburg Center discuss the profound impact of black American authors like Langston Hughes, Richard Wright and Claude McKay as well as jazz and the Harlem Renaissance on this primarily Francophone movement.

In Part III, La force de regarder demain (The Strength to Face Tomorrow), Césaire responds to the disappointments of the post-colonial world.  His plays La tragedie du roi Christophe (about the Haitian revolution) and Une saison au Congo (about Patrice Lumumba) were among the first to warn of the dangers of neo-colonialism. French anthropologist Edgar Morin, biographer Roger Toumson, Brazilian author Jorge Amado, Antillean novelist Maryse Condé and American writer Maya Angelou testify to Césaire's central role as a "founding ancestor" for the current flowering of Diaspora literature.

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