Award-winning Cajun documentary
maker Pat Mire takes us on a trip to a rural Cajun community
in South Louisiana, as we follow the fortunes of a young
architect who leaves New Orleans to return to his parents’ rice
farm following the death of his father.
As Ben is seduced by the challenge
of rice farming in a falling market and the attentions of an old
flame, he decides to swap the rat race and superficiality
of city life for a far more real struggle to save his heritage
and rediscover his true roots.
Uneven acting and cursory shots of
the cuisine and the scenery, like the swooping crop-duster
silhouetted momentarily against a spectacular sunset, leave you
hungry for more.
But these shortcomings are
outweighed by the compensations. Mire gives us a sensitive and
perceptive insight into the ethnic culture and language of a
Cajun community set in his hometown of Eunice in Louisiana.
To watch them celebrate their own
version of Mardi Gras - a strange event rarely witnessed
by outsiders, which includes chasing a chicken - is a treat in
store. Curious dishes like gumbo, jambalaya and dirty rice,
which takes its name from the specks of liver which discolour
the rice, are also on the menu.
Best of all is the music. Accordion,
fiddle, guitar, percussion and vocals are the line-up in a
typical Cajun band, which is afforded plenty of occasions to
strike up. The stereo soundtrack is excellent and the music
alone is enough make this film a must.
Dirty Rice premiered at the London
Film Festival in November
2000, was introduced by Louisiana-born writer and director