Palcy was promoting A Dry White Season, which she had directed, but at the time I'd only seen her first film – the excellent Rue Cases Negres, an independent, small-scale film about a boy potentially escaping the prejudice and poverty of sugar cane work by getting a scholarship to a university in 1930s Martinique. Though I liked that film very much, I only now realise that I haven't seen a subsequent Palcy film – even A Dry White Season (which featured Marlon Brando, who chose to appear in it after being impressed by her direction and social understanding in Rue Cases Negres). Time to get some films out on DVD and make amends. For City Limits magazine
Alicia Partnoy, poet and ex-political prisoner, London, 1988
Alicia Partnoy was imprisoned for two and a half years without charge from 1977, during which time she was also abused and tortured – one of thousands of the "disappeared" after the military coup in Argentina. I can't remember why I met her outside rather than indoors somewhere, but the alley and high wall were intended to hint at that imprisonment, a placing which I was even then vaguely wondering (as I still do now) if it was too simplistic. On the other hand, there was no particular reason to photograph her on any other London street or cafe, and another part of me thinks that the end result is not so bad. She moved to the US, forced out of Argentina, in 1985 and wrote a book, The Little School, about the time of her imprisonment. She teaches at a US university, and writes – see this video of a poetry reading (and with impressive hair now streaked with grey).