Annual festival to feature 40 films to screen at various venues

More than a dozen renowned filmmakers from around the globe will flock to Lafayette later this month for a one-of-a-kind film festival with almost 40 films slated to screen at various venues around town.

The ninth annual Cinema on the Bayou kicks off at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 22, at the Acadiana Center for the Arts with the Louisiana premiere of “Secretariat’s Jockey, Ron Turcotte,” the story of Canadian-born jockey Ron Turcotte and his journey to winning the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, Festival Director Pat Mire said.

Phil Comeau, of Montreal, the film’s director, will be a special guest of the film festival along with filmmakers from Paris, New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Portland, Ore., and several other cities.

“It’s exciting because it seems like the world has caught on,” Mire said. “We have young blood and fresh spirit coming to Lafayette to see what we’re about. They love our food and culture.”

The second-oldest film festival in the state, Cinema on the Bayou started in 2006 after Hurricane Katrina forced the cancellation of the New Orleans Film Festival in fall 2005, Mire said.

More than 800 people turned out for the festival’s inaugural opening night, Mire said, and Cinema on the Bayou has grown exponentially ever since.

More than 4,000 people attended last year’s festivities, he said, and he expects a larger crowd this year.

One aspect of the festival that sets it apart from other filmmaker events is its national and international partnerships with groups that include the National Film Board of Canada, the Office of the French Consul General in New Orleans, the French Embassy Office of Cultural Services in New York City and Videographe, a Montreal film distribution company.

Although the festival features films from around the globe, Cinema on the Bayou has become a destination festival for films coming out of francophone countries, Mire said.

Live music to accompany every screening and festival event is another draw for attendees, Mire said.

This year’s closing night performance by Louisiana rockers Bas Clas will be a “wild one,” Mire said. The festival ends Jan. 26.

“We have a big following of people that come from all over, but we are, after all, French Louisiana,” Mire said. “To be so vibrant and so large and to be better understood outside of Acadiana, I love it.”

Among the dozen documentaries screening at the festival is the world premiere of “Restoration,” a film by Lafayette musician Drew Landry detailing effects of the BP oil spill.

Other documentaries airing at the festival include “The Upstairs Lounge Fire,” the story of a 1973 arson attack on a New Orleans gay bar that killed 32 people, and “Can’t Stop the Water,” profiling Louisiana’s catastrophic coastal erosion through the eyes of an American Indian coastal fishing community.

“The Numberlys,” one of two animated screenings at the festival, is a film about the origins of the alphabet that’s told through an interactive storytelling app for Apple iPhones and iPads.

The interactive epic is by Shreveport-based Moonbot Studios, the same film company that brought “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” to Cinema on the Bayou a year before the film won an Academy Award, Mire said.

For a full schedule of events, visit the Cinema on the Bayou website, http://www.cinemaon thebayou.com.