Over two years in the making, the latest documentary from filmmakers Conni Castille and Allison Bohl, King Crawfish, will debut at the Bayou Bijou Theatre Thursday, June 24.The film unites two crawfish tales: the joyous abandon of the Cajuns at the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival with the water and land rights battles between private land owners and the Atchafalaya Basin crawfishermen.
In King Crawfish, the Cajun spirit is poured out on a communal table, even as the wild harvest is diminishing. At the Crawfish Festival, everything Cajuns value takes to the stage – language, music, food, dance, and the symbol of their culture, the crawfish. Thousands of pounds of crawfish get served up at the festival, much of it coming from their natural habitat, the Atchafalaya Basin. But, as the film traces the crustacean from festival to Basin, it finds fishermen fighting to retain their way of life in one small fishing community.
“One of the layers in the film is about carrying on tradition,” says Castille. “What we find is the continuation of the festival tradition looking very promising. But, the traditional fishing practices in the Basin, not so much.”
“It was a challenging story to film,” says Bohl, the film’s director of photography and editor. “What I try to do when I shoot, is convey emotion and information, in an artful way. In King Crawfish, the parallel stories, although connected by the crawfish, are different emotionally.”
King Crawfish is the third documentary from directing team Castille and Bohl, following on the heels of the award-winning I Always Do My Collars First (2007) and Raised on Rice Gravy (2009), both UL Cinematic Arts Workshop productions.
The film was funded in part by a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation & Tourism, in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council. Funding has also been provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.
King Crawfish will premier at 7 p.m. June 24 at the Bayou Bijou Theatre inside the Student Union on the campus of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
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