Eight days. 180 films. Cinema on the Bayou is an internationally acclaimed film festival that is held annually in January. Over 200 filmmakers, producers, actors, musicians, distributors, grant source representatives and other industry professionals in attendance from across the United States and Canada, as well as from Japan, Australia, India, the U.K. and France. Films and filmmakers from around the world will make their way to venues across Lafayette as they prep for expert panel discussions, workshops, filmmaker Q&A's, nightly parties and live music.
“I don’t think people here realize just how much of a big deal Cinema on the Bayou is for some people,” says Mire, an award-winning documentary and feature filmmaker whose work has helped bring Louisiana to an international audience for years. Both the filmmaker and film festival are committed to advancing the understanding of Cajun and Creole cultures through cinema, which is why this year’s celebration will be one of special significance.
“It was only supposed to run for two weeks. But it was so popular, it kept playing in the theater for another four-and-half months.” Mire is referring to Dirty Rice, his debut feature film that held its world premiere here in Lafayette for an audience of more than 1,200 people. To this day it still holds the record
for the longest run in a Lafayette theater. “It outlasted Spider-Man, Star Wars, you name it. People couldn’t get enough of it and I still can’t believe it.”
Now, 20 years later, Cinema on the Bayou is bringing back Dirty Rice in a big way.
The 20th anniversary screening will act as a fundraiser for the Cinema on the Bayou Film Festival, a non-profit started after Hurricane Katrina that Mire founded and serves as artistic director. Now in its 13th year it’s the second-longest running film festival in Louisiana. “We’ve got over 200 filmmakers from all over the world here in 2018. It has such a huge economic impact on this area. We bring in so many people who fall in love with Lafayette simply through some of the films they’ve seen. It’s so remarkable,” says Mire. It’s no surprise the eight-day event brings in so many people. Just like Dirty Rice, it’s a reflection of the man that founded it. Dirty Rice tells the story of a man rediscovering his roots and reclaiming his heritage. After 20 years the movie still reflects not only the man behind the lens, but Cinema on the Bayou and Lafayette itself.