Film reviewers Siskel and Ebert gave “Belizaire the Cajun” two thumbs up upon its release in 1986. Ebert called it “a wonderful movie.”
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Special Collections at Edith Garland Dupré Library is also a fan, which is why it plans to examine the film – and its cultural significance – as part of a free screening at 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 17, in Oliver Hall on campus.
The screening will be followed by a panel discussion that includes UL Lafayette scholars; Glen Pitre, the film’s director; and Allan Durand, its producer. Michael Doucet, the Grammy Award-winning musician who performed on the movie soundtrack with his band Beasoleil, will perform. Doucet will also participate in the panel discussion.
“Belizaire the Cajun” revolves around conflict between exiled Cajuns who settled in Louisiana and Anglo-Saxons they lived alongside during the 1850s. The movie, which stars Armand Assante in the title role, was screened at the Cannes Film Festival the year it was released.
It endures as an iconic depiction of Acadian culture and history, explained Zachary Stein, head of Special Collections.
“Large parts of the movie were filmed in Lafayette, and it provides an entertaining way for viewers to learn more about Acadian history and Louisiana history,” he said.
Stein’s interest in “Belizaire the Cajun” stretches beyond the film’s entertainment value and cultural significance. Special Collections houses a trove of artifacts donated by Louisianan Pitre, who Ebert once hailed “a renowned American regional movie director.”
Sandy Himel, who is librarian for Special Collection’s Cajun and Creole Music Collection, is also coordinating the event. Materials in the music collection donated by Doucet and Beausoleil members include open reel recording studio master tapes, and promotional posters and photographs.
Artifacts from both collections will be displayed during the event. As a whole, the idea behind “revisiting the film is to examine it in various contexts that will provide a comprehensive perspective. Different people will identify with different aspects, whether it’s culture, language, music or history,” Himel said.
Caption: UL Lafayette’s Special Collections at Edith Garland Dupré Library will celebrate the film “Belizaire the Cajun” with a free screening, panel discussion and musical performance at 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 17, in Oliver Hall. Graphic credit: University of Louisiana at Lafayette
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