LPB premieres a documentary exploring the evolution of the Cajun identity

Published 10:00 am Sunday, March 7, 2021

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Baton Rouge – The origin and evolution of “Cajun” identity is a complex issue – and hotly debated by some. In the documentary film Finding Cajun, filmmaker Nathan Rabalais presents a critical and historically informed perspective. Louisiana Public Broadcasting (LPB) presents the broadcast premiere of this thought provoking film Wednesday, March 10, 2021 at 7:00 PM.

Finding Cajun looks at how Cajuns compare to the present-day Acadians in maritime Canada, a community that is supposedly at the historical root of Cajun ethnicity. It also explores how cultural and racial labels in Louisiana have shifted, especially over the past 70 years, and considers the stakes of maintaining (or losing) heritage languages in the United States.

Director Nathan Rabalais wanted to offer a “wider picture” of how Cajun identity has evolved over time. “The question of language and cultural identity in Louisiana is something that has fascinated me for years. The history of the French language’s presence in Louisiana is so often oversimplified in popular media and tourism,” said Rabalais.

From New Brunswick and Nova Scotia to the bayous of Louisiana, viewers will discover the diversity and complexity of South Louisiana’s French- and Creole-speaking communities and see how Americanization, issues of race, and language shift have reshaped the cultural landscape of Louisiana.

“The Cajun people and Louisiana culture are just some of the many things that make Louisiana unique and fascinating,” says Jason Viso, LPB Director of Programming. “Sharing these stories is what LPB does best. We are happy to bring this film to our viewers.”

Working with videographer and brother David, Rabalais’ documentary gathers perspectives from a wide-range of sources including noted historians and authors Shane Bernard, Ph.D., and Carl Brasseaux, Ph.D., as well as well-known Cajun folklorist and author Barry Ancelet.

“I’m really excited to have the film shown on LPB. Even while we were making the film, I thought that it would be the perfect outlet to reach a wider audience interested in Louisiana history and culture,” says Rabalais. “Public media like LPB is so important in giving local independent filmmakers a chance to showcase their work, and LPB is a reliable source of quality content that speaks to our unique region. Hopefully, the film will give LPB’s viewers a chance to delve deeper into their understanding of cultural identity and French in Louisiana.”

Finding Cajun premieres on LPB Wednesday, March 10 at 7:00 PM. Immediately, following will be an encore showing of the LPB produced documentary The Spirit of a Culture: Cane River Creoles (8:30 PM) which delves into the Cane River Creole identity struggle.


About Louisiana Public Broadcasting

Since 1975, Louisiana Public Broadcasting has been the public television network for the state of Louisiana with stations in Alexandria, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Monroe and Shreveport. LPB is also affiliated with WLAE-TV in New Orleans. In addition to its award-winning documentaries about the history and people of Louisiana, LPB is dedicated to helping children throughout the state develop their literacy, math and science skills through its numerous educational outreach programs.

About Nathan Rabalais

Nathan Rabalais was born in Eunice and grew up in Lafayette. He currently serves as French Louisiana specialist in the Department of Modern Languages at UL Lafayette. His research focuses primarily on the folklore, literature, and popular culture of francophone North America, particularly in Louisiana and Acadian communities of maritime Canada. His two recent books are: Folklore Figures of French and Creole Louisiana newly available from LSU Press and his collection of poetry in French, Le Hantage: un ouvrage de souvenance (2018) published by Éditions Tintamarre.