The Advertiser, Jan. 22, 2015
by Herman Fuselier
Pat Mire and Rebecca Hudsmith have no time to put on a film festival. Mire stays busy making and promoting his own films, which have won national and international awards.
Hudsmith is a lawyer who works as a federal public defender for the middle and western districts of Louisiana.
Somehow, Mire and Hudsmith have organized the Cinema on the Bayou Film Festival for the past nine years. Today, they can't imagine life without it.
"As a lawyer, I've always needed the arts as a way to balance my work, which can be very difficult, stressful and sad," said Hudsmith. "This gives me an outlet. I love artists and I have friends who are painters, friends who write. I'm just drawn to creative people, so I love the filmmakers.
"We've become this international community that keeps in touch. We have one filmmaker (Stephanie Assimacopoulo, 'Le Train Bleu') last year from France who we got very close to. When she left, we told her 'When you come out with your next film, we'll get you back here.'
"In June, she wrote us, saying 'I'm writing to say good bye. I have pancreatic cancer.' She died a month later. It was like a dear friend had died because we had gotten that close."
Hudsmith and Mire nurture more relationships with international filmmakers at the 10thannual Cinema on the Bayou, which continues today through Sunday. The event has grown from a handful of films shown at a single downtown Lafayette venue to dozens of films, along with workshops, expert panels, live music performances and social events, at five locations.
This year's festival presents more than 90 short films, documentaries and feature-length movies, including many Louisiana and world premieres. They'll be shown at the Acadiana Center for the Arts, Vermilionville, Celebrity Theater in Broussard, Pack and Paddle and the Lafayette Parish South Regional Library.
More than 100 filmmakers, from the United States, Canada, Europe and South America are expected to attend.
Some of the featured films include "Flutter," a drama starring Lindsay Pulsipher, "Samba and Jazz," a documentary on the rhythms and cultures of Brazil and New Orleans, "Everybody wants to a Cajun, a documentary from Quebec, and "We Won't Bow Down," a look at Mardi Gras Indians of New Orleans.
Mire is looking forward to the films and presentations.
"We're bringing the heat," said Mire. "Diversity is our theme this year and we have a lot of high quality, ethnic films from Italy, Brazil, African American films.
"Our big thing here is putting the veteran filmmakers with the emerging people. We have a growing audience in the Lafayette area that is film hungry, looking for stories. There's nothing that thrills me more than the audience engaging with this artists."
Mire said Cinema on the Bayou has become a year-round effort that includes lots of volunteer help on festival weekend. But the world is noticing.
AudNews Magazine, an online publication for filmmakers and enthusiasts, listed the event as one of the Top 15 Winter Film Festivals in the United States.
Garden and Gun Magazine picked the festival as an Editor's Choice for goings-on in the Southern and beyond in January 2015.The magazine described the festival as "charged with exposing attendees to the most original voices in film while fostering cultural exchange among the French-speaking peoples of the world."
But Mire said the festival is more than winning awards and recognition.
"I like thinking that I'm contributing to the filmmaking world. It's part addiction too, the excitement of being around it all."Where the festival is now, it's truly an international film festival. We're offering a community, that I grew up in and that I understand, a chance to share culture."
"It's been great. I love the way this festival turns out. It brings people together