Cinema on the Bayou Film Festival was founded in 2006 by filmmaker Pat Mire after Hurricane Katrina caused the cancellation of the New Orleans Film Festival in the fall of 2005. Pat was contacted by the National Film Board of Canada, which offered a U.S. premiere of the documentary "Maroon," by famed Quebecois filmmaker Andre Gladu. The film was originally scheduled to premiere in New Orleans. Cinema on the Bayou was launched in response, and Mr. Gladu's film, with the filmmaker in attendance, opened the inaugural Festival. Cinema on the Bayou now has the distinction of being the second-longest running film festival in Louisiana.
Since 2006, Cinema on the Bayou Film Festival has presented, on an annual basis, a wide variety of documentary and narrative fiction films and filmmakers from around the United States and beyond. In its second year, Cinema on the Bayou presented a red-carpet screening of the Louisiana premiere of "Little Chenier" to an audience of 800-plus at Celebrity Theatres in Broussard. In its third year, with the assistance of humanities scholars from the Lafayette area, the Festival presented a slate of roots culture documentaries and related panel discussions with visiting filmmakers.
By its fourth year, as the buzz grew among filmmakers about this filmmaker-friendly Festival, Cinema on the Bayou presented films and filmmakers in attendance from New York; Kansas City and St. Louis, Missouri; Clarksdale, Mississippi; Portland, Oregon; Seattle, Washington, New Orleans and Lafayette. Folklorists John Laudun and Carl Lindahl moderated the post-screening audience discussions of our roots culture films, and local treasures, guitarists and song-writers Gerry McGee and Sam Broussard, participated in the Music in Film panel discussion. Cinema on the Bayou also partnered with Shadow Distribution, Duke University and the Dallas Art Museum in getting quality films to Lafayette. Visiting filmmakers Sarah Knight of New York City and Deborah Cohen of Portland, Oregon participated in an informative Fair Use Rights panel discussion. The hot filmmaking team of David Redman and Ashley Sabin was awarded the Best Humanities-Themed Documentary Award for their film, "Invisible Girlfriend." Roger Stolle and Jeff Konkel's film, "M for Mississippi," was named Best Roots Culture New Film, and Deborah Cohen's "Going, Going, Going," was named Best Roots Culture Classic Film. Sarah Knight's film, "Hot Flash," was named Audience Favorite.
The 5th Cinema on the Bayou Film Festival brought visiting filmmmakers from Montreal, Brooklyn, Houston, Corpus Christi, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Lafayette. Noted music expert Herman Fuselier moderated a panel discussions on Zydeco music with Dr. Roger Wood of Houston, Morris and Lawrence Ardoin, and Sid Williams. "Goujon caille" award winners were: Best Humanities-Themed Documentary - "All Over But To Cry" by Jennifer John Block; Best Roots Culture Documentary - "Looking For Trouble" by David Brasseaux; Best Cinematography - "Mon Reve Familier" by Jimmy Ferguson; Audience Favorite - "Mardi Gras: Made In China" by David Redmon and Ashley Sabin.
The 6th Cinema on the Bayou Film Festival included a panel discussion on Mardi Gras traditions with Barry Ancelet and Ray Brassieur, as well as a series of top-notch documentary films and a discussion with actor and humorist Harry Shearer in connection with the screening of his film about Katrina and the flooding of New Orleans, "The Big Uneasy." Colorado based filmmaker Marca Hagenstand and New York based filmmaker Aaron Dunsay were on hand for the Louisiana premiere of their film "Coals to Newcastle - The New Mastersounds: From Leed to New Orleans," which received the Festival's top "goujon caille" prize, the Screening Commiittee Award. " Other awards included the Best Humanities-Themed Documentary, which was awarded to "Disfarmer: A Portrait of America" by Toronto-based filmmaker Dennis Mohr. The Audience Award was given to Shreveporter William Joyce's animated narrative short, "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore," which screened at Cinema on the Bayou a year before it was nominated for and won and an Academy Award in the animiated short film category.
The 7th Cinema on the Bayou Film Festival brought to Lafayette Quebecois filmmakers Melanie Carrier and Olivier Higgins, who were awarded the goujon caille award for Best Humanities-Themed Documentary for their film "Encounters," which made its Louisiana premiere at the Festival. The Inspiration Award, which recognizes the film that best exemplifies the mission of the Festival to promote the understanding of Cajun and Creole cultures through film, was given to New Brunswick filmmakers Danny Thebeau and Donovan Richard for their narrative film "Delivrance," which made its U.S. Premiere at the Festival. The Audience Award went to two films: Los Angeles-based Sharon Donnan and Kathryn Bojorquez's "Howard Citizen - The Man and the Music He Loves," with the lovely Mr. Citizen and his many family members and friends in attendance, and Bart Wild's "Bingo Bandito," which made its World Premiere at the Festival with most of Crowley, LA. in attendance.
The 8th Cinema on the Bayou Film Festival saw the introduction of our new logo by local graphic artist Bram Johnson, brother to Jillian Johnson, who also consulted with Cinema on the Bayou in developing its new look. The Festival closed that year with a standing-room-only crowd at Vermilionville and a powerful music performance by David Egan, Roddie Romero, Eric Adcock, and Michael Juan Nunez following the U.S. Premiere of Ronnie Clifton's "Songs of Souls." We mourn the loss of Jillian Johnson and David Egan, our beloved creative forces in this community and long-time supporters of Cinema on the Bayou.
The 9th Cinema on the Bayou Film Festival opened with the Louisiana Premiere of Phil Comeau's "Secretariat's Jockey, Ron Turcotte" with Montreal-based Comeau in attendance for the flm screening. The Festival also presented two full days of French-language films with filmmakers in attendance from Montreal, Quebec City, and Moncton.
The 10th Cinema on the Bayou Film Festival featured our largest number of official selection animated short films to date from all parts of the world. We were pleased to have Moonbot Studio's own Wendell Riley serve as our animated shorts judge. Other judges included filmmakers Glenn Pitre and Michelle Benoit and IATSE represenative Bill McCord.
With the 11th Cinema on the Bayou Film Festival in January of 2016, the Festival expanded to 8 days and more than doubled in size, including the number of official submissions, filmmaker attendees and official selections, with 198 films screened and over 200 filmmakers, actors, musicians and other industry professionals in attendance from across the United States, Canada, Japan, France, the U.K., and Australia.