A look at the spirit of New Orleans. First a funeral: Allen Toussaint explains that you arrive slow and cut up afterwards. Then it's food, with a lesson in eating crayfish at Frankie and ... See full summary »
Blue Lu Barker,
Henry 'Professor Longhair' Byrd,
"Chulas Fronteras" is a documentary about the music of the Mexican community on both sides of the Texas-Mexico border, particularly of migrant farmers. It includes material about the roots ... See full summary »
Los Alegres De Teran,
"Les Blank marries his passion for spicy, down home food and his love for Cajuns and Creoles in this mouth-watering, exploration of the cooking, and other enthusiasms, of French-speaking ... See full summary »
A documentary on the chaotic production of Werner Herzog's epic Fitzcarraldo (1982), showing how the film managed to get made despite problems that would have floored a less obsessively ... See full summary »
Documentary about noted Zydeco artist Clifton Chenier. Based out of New Orleans, Chenier was the self-crowned "King" of Zydeco (a New Orleans musical hybrid containing elements of blues, ... See full summary »
Felix James Benit,
This little known Les Blank gem is a portrait of the Serbian-American communities of California and Chicago. At the time of the California Gold Rush, the first Serbian immigrants arrived ... See full summary »
What I love about Les Blank is his obsessive nature to cover all the aspects of his subject. While at a seminar with Les, I heard him comment that in making this movie, he wanted to make the definitive Cajun/Zydeco music movie. He accomplished everything he hoped for. The movie starts with the acknowledgment that Cajun and Creole is not one defined group of people. The collection of people known as Cajun began when the Acadians moved out of Canada and found home in the deep south among free slaves and other Europeans. The roots of Cajun and Zydeco music is Gaelic, with heavy drones, usually played on stringed and reeded instruments. Today's Cajun/Zydeco music has witnessed many changes since its beginning, conforming to the popular trends of American pop music, country music, and even rock and roll. The introduction of the accordion was another major change to the Cajun/Zydeco sound. Alongside the change in sound was featured the change in the music's stars. Many of the genre's major artists are featured in this documentary, including but not limited to Mark and Anne Savoy and the Savoy Family Band, Lawrence Ardoin And His French Zydeco Band, Clifton Chenier The King of Zydeco, Michael Doucet, and Joe Falcon. And, even during the aftermath of a devastating segregation war between blacks and whites in the United States, Les Blank was able to capture both the black and white perspective of Cajun/Zydeco music with interviews from both sides of the dividing line. Fortunately today, that line has been heavily blurred and racial tensions have been lifted. After watching this film, I was enlightened to the rich cultural heritage of Cajun and Zydeco music. It was like watching a text book of information on a big screen.
Special thanks to Les Blank, Cece Conway, and the Open Apperture Short Film Festival for hosting the Les Blank retrospective seminar on the campus of Appalachian State University.
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