Madeleine Hunt-Ehrlich 07F’s Debut Feature “The Ballad of Suzanne Césaire" Premieres at the Rotterdam Film Festival

Written and directed by Hampshire College alum Madeleine Hunt-Ehrlich 07F, The Ballad of Suzanne Césaire explores the legacy of feminist, writer, scholar, and activist Suzanne Césaire. Born in Martinique in 1915, Césaire was at the forefront of the Négritude and Surrealist movements in the Caribbean in the first half of the 20th century.

Hunt-Ehrlich goes beyond conventional biopic narratives, offering a “shimmering sidelong glance at the intellectual, philosophical and emotional imprint left by Martinican anti-colonialist writer and Afro-surrealist pioneer Suzanne Césaire,” writes Jessica Kiang for Variety. Guided by Hunt-Ehrlich's interviews with the surviving children and family members of Césaire, the film reimagines the visual narrative that might have emerged if historical records had been different.

“She was always writing, she threw her writing away also. What happened to such a promising voice? For me this was the central question of the film: was the choice to keep writing but not to publish a refusal, maybe a higher awareness of the impermanence of the external validation many of her intimate collaborators enjoyed? Was it a darker side effect of the entrenched patriarchy of our society?” asks Hunt-Ehrlich in Deadline.

The film raises questions about memory and memorialization, considering whether Césaire, who did not want to be remembered, should be memorialized and how her work continues to inspire contemporary minds.

>>> Read more in Variety.

Madeleine Hunt-Ehrlich’s work has been screened all over the world including at the 2023 Berlinale, the 2022 La Biennale di Venezia, the Guggenheim Museum, the Tate Modern, and the Whitney Museum of Art. Her films have been awarded special jury prize for best experimental film at Blackstar Film Festival and New Orleans Film Festival. She was named on Filmmaker Magazine's 2020 "25 New Faces of Independent Cinema List" and is the recipient of a 2023 Herb Alpert Award in Film, a 2022 Creative Capitol Award, a 2019 Rema Hort Mann Award, and a 2014 Princess Grace Award in film.

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