Filmed in part at Melrose, ‘Cane River’ has renewed interest after four decades

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A negative of the film, “Cane River” has been discovered after it was believed lost for many years. There will be a New York premier of the movie in February. Graphic from “Deadline” online edition

Film recently premiered in Los Angeles

Nearly four decades have passed since the motion picture, “Cane River,” was released but the film is the object of a renewed interest and had another premier last week in Los Angeles. Natchitoches historian and Clementine Hunter authority Tommy Whitehead alerted the Natchitoches Times to stories about the release and the Los Angeles premier of the film in a story on “Deadline,” an Internet entertainment website.

It is described as, “A budding, forbidden romance lays bare the tensions between two groups both descended from slaves but of disparate opportunity – the light-skinned, property-owning Creoles and the darker-skinned, more disenfranchised families of the area.”

Whitehead says he and the late Betty Jones, who was director of the Chamber of Commerce in 1982, attended the local premier at the Don Theater on Front Street. “We were the only two town locals attending. The Don Theater was full of folks from down Cane River. He says the film was beautifully shot and a lot of it was filmed on the grounds of Melrose Plantation.

“I often wondered what happened to the film. There was never really anything else about it until I saw the New York Times story a while back,” Whitehead says. He recalls that it had a good technical quality and soft look. “It was another remarkable film shot in Natchitoches,” Whitehead said. “We have been fortunate to have Horse Soldiers, Steel Magnolias, The Man in the Moon and Cane River shot here. There were all ‘good’ and successful movies.” According to the Deadline article by Dino-Ray Ramo, “Oscilloscope Laboratories is looking to bring more marginalized narratives to the spotlight with its recent acquisition of 1982’s Cane River.

The Indie Film Company co-founded by the Beastie Boys’ late, great Adam Yauch has acquired the North American rights to Horace B. Jenkins’s sole feature film, long considered lost following its 1982 premiere in New Orleans. Jenkins died shortly after the premiere and the film never received full distribution, but Oscilloscope is about to remedy that. Newly remastered by IndieCollect and O-Scope, Cane River is set to open at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York on Feb. 7, with national rollout to select locations to follow. A 4K version of the film was screened earlier this year in New York at the Museum of Modern Art’s “To Save and Project” film festival. A related story on “Deadline” had more details about the film.

“The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will premiere Cane River in Los Angeles on Nov.. 1 at the Linwood Dunn Theater. This will be the first time it will be screened in Los Angeles, with lead actors Tommye Myrick and Richard Romain on hand for a panel discussion. “Written, produced and directed by the Emmy-winning documentarian Jenkins, Cane River is a racially-themed love story shot in Natchitoches Parish, a ‘free community of color’ in Louisiana. In addition to stars Myrick and Romain, the film features an entirely African American cast and crew.

A budding, forbidden romance lays bare the tensions between two groups both descended from slaves but of disparate opportunity – the light-skinned, property-owning Creoles and the darker-skinned, more disenfranchised families of the area. “Though the film was championed by Richard Pryor, it largely disappeared after Jenkins’ death at 42, just months after Cane River‘s New Orleans premiere. Long believed lost, a negative of the film was discovered in 2014 in the vaults of New York’s storied DuArt film developing company. “The little-seen Cane River was largely financed by New Orleans’ prominent and wealthy African-American Rhodes family.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to have the opportunity to bring Cane River to audiences. Better late than never,” said O-Scope’s Dan Berger. “This is a complex and subtle film that has a lot to say and despite the nearly four decades that have passed since it was made, it is as relevant today as it was in 1982.”