From the land of Longfellow a Cajun film, seven years in the making, will premier in Louisiana this month in New Orleans and throughout Acadiana.
Film makers Brenda Jepson and Dr. Francoise Paradis, who hail from Maine, home state of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, began their epic documentary in April of 2007.
In "The Story Of The Cajuns – Part I" they interview Cajuns from all walks of life - from a shrimp fisherman to a college professor and from a cowboy to an Acadian artist.
These stories are woven together with narrative links from a well-loved Cajun musician and storyteller, David Greely, whose lyrical fiddle tunes also grace the sound track of the film. His ancestor, Olivier Theriot, was instrumental in bringing a large contingency of Acadians from France to Louisiana in 1785.
"We could never have made this film without the tremendous help we had from Cajuns from start to finish," said Jepson, who has been making films for PBS for more than thirty years.
"We stayed with them throughout the film making in Louisiana, and they not only took us into their homes, but they took us into their hearts. This has made all the difference in capturing the authenticity of their story."
Velma Johnson, of
St Martinville (right), holds the
microphone as Brenda Jepson
(left) adjusts the camera at
Café Des Amis in Breaux Bridge.
The film tells the story of how Acadians expelled during the Deportation made the arduous journey, some of them via France, to their new home in Louisiana. It explores the hardships they faced and reveals how they survived and thrived in a climate so different from their ancestral Acadie.
Footage was shot in Canada, France and Louisiana by award winning filmmaker, Brenda Jepson and her husband Alan in collaboration with Dr. Francoise Paradis, who coaxed amazing stories from Cajuns.
A video sample:
Brenda Nasberg Jepson is a Mainer of Swedish descent who grew up in the capitol, Augusta, going to school with many friends and neighbors who had Acadian names such as Ayotte, Lambert, Deveau, Cyr, and Robichaud. Years later, after establishing herself as an award winning film maker in London, England, she returned to Maine settling on the edge of The Saint John Valley. There she met and befriended Acadians with the same names she had grown up with and she became fascinated with their compelling history. She and her filmmaking husband, Alan Jepson, have teamed up with Acadians for more than ten years to make films about various aspects of Acadian culture and history. Their current films "The Story Of The Cajuns," and "Acadians of The St John Valley" are collaborative efforts in which Dr Francoise Paradis conducted most of the interviews and Acadian scholars and historians have advised all along the way. Jepson served for more than ten years on the Maine Film Commission board, acting as chairperson from 2010 until 2013. She has won numerous awards for her films including a silver medal for "The Inside Story" in the New York International Film Festival in 1988. Jepson has produced films for Maine PBS for more than thirty years. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Françoise Paradis' ancestors migrated from Mortagne-au-Perche and Brittany, France to Quebec more than 100 years before the Acadians were deported from Nova Scotia. Her ancestors intersected and blended with Acadians as they migrated from Canada in the 1840s, settling in St. Luce Parish, Frenchville. Dr. Paradis is the seventh child in a French-speaking family of fourteen children in Frenchville – the heart of French-Canadian and Acadian culture in Maine. She has served her fellow Franco-Americans, including Acadians, in her work as administrator, instructor, and counselor at the University of Maine and continues to serve them in her private practice as a psychologist. Her research has taken her to Canada and France, and she has written and lectured about Franco-American culture. She currently lives in Buxton, Maine, where she has established Hidden Springs Psychological Services and Retreat Center. She volunteers at the Wadsworth-Longfellow House in Portland, Maine and at Maine Historical Society Library. Her interest in Evangeline, the creation of a book, and the writing of the accompanying study guide, are products of her passion for awakening people to their ancestral gifts and assisting them to integrate these gifts into today's heart and soul. Dr. Paradis can be reached at email@example.com
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