Lafayette festival celebrates local Cajun hero

Kreol Magazine attended the opening gala night of the 12th annual Cinema on the Bayou Film Festival in Lafayette on the 25th of January.

The festival was launched with the US premier of “Zachary Richard, Cajun Heart“, a documentary that follows the legendary Louisiana songwriter as he delves into the reasons for the survival of Cajun culture. The screening was followed by a reception attended by Zachary Richard and the award-winning Canadian film maker, Phil Comeau.

Founder and artistic director of the festival, Pat Mire, said:

“It was great to open this year’s festival with a film featuring one of our local heroes and directed by our friend and festival alum, Phil Comeau. We’re all looking forward to an exciting festival of films culminating in another US Premier in the form of Tatara Samurai.”

The Cinema on the Bayou film festival takes place over eight days in a range of locations in Lafayette. It seeks to highlight the best in national and international films while also providing a platform for works that explore Louisiana’s Cajun culture.

The 2017 line up includes 106 narrative films and 40 documentaries. These have been selected from all around the world and 32 are in French. The films that feature as part of the festival are eligible to compete for the Goujon Caille Award.

The festival relies on ticket sales in order to fund itself. However, it does offer a number of free showings of films to allow cinema fans to see exceptional new work. The closing film of the 2017 Cinema on the Bayou festival is Tatara Samurai. This has already won the Montreal World Film Festival’s Best Artistic Contribution award.

Zachary Richard is a singer-songwriter, poet and documentary maker who was born and raised in Louisiana. He revitalised Cajun music in the 1970s, before moving to Montreal and recording a string of popular albums in French. In the early 1980s, Richard returned to Louisiana to record a series of English-language albums. He has been one of the most active advocates for Cajun culture across four decades of music-making.

Georgina Dhillon, editor of Kreol Magazine, said,

“For anyone who is interested in Cajun culture, the US premier of a documentary about one of North America’s most important French-speaking creatives is a noteworthy event. At Kreol Magazine, we make sure that events like this one are documented and given the wider audience that they deserve.”