“Ladybrille’s 15 Questions with . . .” is a feature which salutes some of the most important names in the fashion and entertainment industries around the globe, with a particular emphasis on Africa. We hope you are as inspired as we are with the brilliant men and women in these industries that make the world go round.
This week is all about the 19th Annual New York African Film Festival which began April 11th, 2012 in New York. Our “Ladybrille’s 15 Questions With . . .” series highlights some of the key filmmakers and persons in the film industry that will be showing their films at the festival. Today’s feature is on Mariette Monpierre, Director of Elza.
A little bit about Elza:
A young Parisian woman of Caribbean descent returns to her native island of Guadeloupe in search of the father she has never known.
Bernadette, a single mother in Paris, tries to provide her daughters with everything. She is thrilled when her eldest daughter, Elza, is the first in the family to graduate from college earning a master’s degree summa cum laude. But Elza breaks her mother’s heart by running away to their native Guadeloupe in search of a distant childhood memory: the father she barely remembers. This feature debut by writer/director Mariette Monpierre offers an unusual insider’s view of lush island culture as she captures the passion and contradictions of this family.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: Describe your businesses. What exactly do you do?
Mariette Monpierre: I’m a filmmaker. I was born in the island of Guadeloupe, grew up in Paris and moved to New York to follow my dream of making films.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: How did you end up in your chosen field?
Mariette Monpierre:At one time I was part of the advertising business at BBD&O where I enjoyed producing powerful commercials, but something was missing. I yearned to tell my stories – to capture life about the people and places close to me, from my viewpoint behind the camera. It has been an adventure, an expression of my commitment to achieve that goal, ever since.
As a little girl growing up on the island of Guadeloupe, because my aunt worked at the local cinema I went to the movies constantly. After we moved to Paris, every Saturday my mother would take me to see American epic movies, so it was natural that I developed a passion for film as well as American pop culture. When I saw “Manhattan” by Woody Allen, I made up my mind I would move to New York to make films. After graduating from the Sorbonne University in Paris, I was awarded a scholarship to Smith College in Massachusetts for graduate studies, and eventually moved to the Big Apple to follow my dream.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: What has been the most difficult challenge you have faced in getting to where you are?
Mariette Monpierre: Fundraising. It took 5 years.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: How do you define success?
Mariette Monpierre:The best is yet to come.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: Where do you look to draw inspiration when the going gets tough and the tough gets going?
Mariette Monpierre:My mom is my heroine. She was your typical single mom raising three daughters without a father. She played the part of the mom and the dad. She had three jobs and she sacrificed herself for us. She died young. She was very strong and never complained. She always had a smile on her face. She inspires me and I take her with me everywhere I go in my pocket!
LADYBRILLEmag.com: Share with us your memory of the happiest moment in your life?
Mariette Monpierre: The birth of my son Jack. He’s the man in my life. Second is when I won three awards at the Pan African film Festival in Los Angeles. I won: Best First Feature: Special Jury Recognition- Feature Narrative @ PAFF/ L.A. Pan African Film Festival – British Academy of Film and Television Arts/LA (BAFTA/LA) Festival Choice Award Festival Programmers’ Award – Narrative PAFF/Los Angeles. I was on a high for days. I think I’m still on my cloud. It’s a beautiful feeling to wake up in the morning and fly out of bed to do what I love. I feel blessed.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: What keeps you awake at night?
Mariette Monpierre:I sleep like a log.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: What drives you?
Mariette Monpierre:I grew up without a father and felt a deep emptiness within me.. When I was a teenager, I wanted to see his eyes. I longed for a warm hug from my dad – I think I compensated by being an overachiever. I always want to be the best I can be.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: What makes you get up everyday to do what you do, all over again?
Mariette Monpierre: I keep my heart open . . .
LADYBRILLEmag.com: What are the daily principles you live by?
Mariette Monpierre:Live in the moment. Live as if today was your last day. Don’t look back…and if today is a bad day, remember what Scarlet O’Hara said in the film Gone with the Wind: “Tomorrow is another day!”
LADYBRILLEmag.com: When all is said and done, what is the legacy you want to leave in the entertainment field?
Mariette Monpierre: (no response)
LADYBRILLEmag.com: What African artist are you currently playing in your Ipod?
Mariette Monpierre: My favorite African artist is actually from the island of Guadeloupe where I was born. Her name is Stevy Mahy. She sing with so much sensitivity and sensuality. She is fantastic when she performs my favorite title “Beautiful”. The song is part of the original soundtrack of my feature narrative ELZA (Le Bonheur d’Elza). You can get in on itune.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: Who is your favorite African male designer?
Mariette Monpierre: My African male designer is XULY BET. He’s based in Paris, France. I wore an amazing dress he designed for my film premiere in the West Indies.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: What’s your favorite food to eat?
Mariette Monpierre:Salmon with a glass of champagne!
LADYBRILLEmag.com: What is the best advice you have ever received?
Mariette Monpierre: Relax. There’s an end to everything.
Visit The New York African Film Festival for more details on venue and tickets to attend the festival.
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