‘Legacy’ screening Saturday at Cinema on the Bayou Festival

Film documents Mervine Kahn’s influence on area

LAFAYETTE - “The Mervine Kahn Legacy” will be among the feature films shown during this weekend’s Cinema on the Bayou Film Festival.
The Rayne Historical District Association and Wild Productions have announced that the 80-minute documentary will be screened at noon Saturday, Jan. 28, at Cités des Arts.
“We’re very excited with this opportunity to share our film,” Bart Wild of Wild Productions said during a recent breakfast meeting with Martha Royer of the Rayne Historical District Associatoin.
Royer agreed. “This is really big for Rayne,” she said. “This is something that can grow and can help to bring visitors to our city.”
“Legacy,” in its current form, represents the merging of two documentaries.
The first tells the story of how Mervine Kahn, a French-speaking German Jew, settled in Rayne in 1884 and established his namesake general store which grew into a local institution and landmark.
“The Mervine Kahn Legacy” began as an oral history project with interviews of former Mervine Kahn Company employees with the help of students from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Over 30 hours of interviews were collected, as well as photos and artifacts from the store.
“Volume I was all about the employees and why Mervine Kahn came to Rayne,” said Wild. “We interviewed dozens of people for the film — the oldest was 94 and the youngest was Kathy Lanthier, the person who locked the door on the final day of operation — and we never heard one bad word about that man.”
The second film focused on the connection between the Mervine Kahn Company and the proliferation of Cajun and Creole music in the early part of the twentieth century.
“Mervine Kahn brought the first accordions to the area through his connections in Germany and New York,” Wild explained. “Rayne is really the hub of the development of Cajun-French music.”
The film features interviews and music by Grammy Award winners Jo-El Sonnier and Wayne Toups as well as Steve Riley and a host of other musicians.
Cinema on the Bayou Film Festival was founded in 2006 by filmmaker Pat Mire after Hurricane Katrina caused the cancellation of the New Orleans Film Festival in the fall of 2005. It now has the distinction of being the second-longest running film festival in Louisiana.
Since 2006, Cinema on the Bayou Film Festival has presented, on an annual basis, a wide variety of documentary and narrative fiction films and filmmakers from around the United States and beyond.
The film festival opened Wednesday, Jan. 25, with the U.S. premier of “Zachary Richard, Cajun Heart” at the Acadiana Center for the Arts. The festival continues through Feb. 1.
The Festival will screen 163 official selections from COTB’s open call for submissions from independent filmmakers around the world along with panels discussions, workshops, music and parties.
Over 200 directors, producers, cinematographers, distributors, actors, grant sources and other industry professionals are expected to attend the festival from across the United States and Canada, as well as from Japan, Australia, India, the U.K. and France.
Film screenings will take place at Acadiana Center for the Arts, Cité des Arts, the Vermilionville Performance Center, and the Lafayette Public Library South Regional Branch.
The 2017 festival lineup was chosen from a total pool of more than 1,200 submissions, and includes 106 narrative films, of which 22 are features and 84 are shorts; 40 documentary films, of which 23 are features and 17 are shorts, and 17 animated short films.
The majority of the films are World, U.S. or Louisiana Premieres.
Included within the official selections are more than 32 French-language films and 23 films from Japan, as well as films from Cuba, Spain, the U.K., India, Australia, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Austria, China, Mauritius, Cyprus, the United Republic of Tanzania, Canada, France and across the United States.
For a schedule of film screenings, visit cinemaonthebayou.com.
You can also follow the Mervine Kahn Legacy and the Rayne Historical District Association on Facebook.

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