This insightful story is set in the Caribbean island of Martinique, in the early 1930s.
Young José and his grandmother live in a small
shantytown called "Sugar Cane Alley". Everyone there barely earns a living
cutting cane for the French colonial boss. The only way to advance is to do well in school.
So José studies hard and succeeds in an exam allowing him to attend school in
the capital. However, with only a partial scholarship, the tuition is very costly. José and his
grandmother move to Fort-de-France to make José’s studies easier... (This film won award for
"best first work" at the Venice Film Festival and at the French César Awards.)
The film is based on a novel by Martiniquais author Joseph Zobel. An English translation
was published by Three Continents Press in 1980 under the title
Black Shack Alley (ISBN 0914478680).
Good background information on the film from a world literature course