The film first premiered in New Orleans in May 1982. While much of the film involves the couple in tender, even idyllic, romantic moments — riding together on horseback or playing around a swimming pool — Cane River creates a unique tension where distant past and near future cause equal strain upon Peter and Maria’s love. A handful of talented and, above all, passionate archivists and home distribution companies have been presenting vital works that have been misjudged or carelessly swept aside for decades. Culture Clash: Creoles and darker-skinned African Americans have conflicts that stem from issues of colorism and classism within the community. Copyright © 2020 Penske Business Media, LLC. His father was also a documentarian; “Cane River” was his only fictional feature. Interviews with leading film and TV creators about their process and craft. He said watching the film for the first time was bittersweet. Jenkins was a successful documentarian who died in 1982 shortly after finishing Cane River, his narrative debut that was believed to have been lost until 2014. Written, produced, and directed by Emmy Award-winning documentarian, Horace B. Jenkins, and crafted by an entirely African American cast and crew, CANE RIVER is a racially-charged love story in Natchitoches Parish, a “free community of color” in Louisiana. 'Cane River': A Forgotten Black Director's Only Film Resurfaces After Being Lost for 40 years, John Singleton, John Ridley and Others to Mark 1992 L.A. Uprising With Timely TV Documentaries, 'The Lord of the Rings': Everything You Need to Know About Amazon's Big Money Adaptation. The film — an official selection at Ebertfest, the New Orleans Film Festival, and To Save and Project/MOMA — disappeared for decades after Jenkins died suddenly following the film’s completion. Yet the occasional awkward edits and misframed angles lend the picture a DIY authenticity, complementing the earnestness of Jenkins’ love story, and his questions about legacy and reparations that still resonate today. TimesMachine is an exclusive benefit for home delivery and digital subscribers. With its stiff blocking and technical blunders, this is clearly a film by first-timers, and contemporary audiences accustomed to the smoothness of digital production might need to adjust expectations a bit for how massively unwieldy independent filmmaking was back in the 35mm era. When she and Peter are spotted together, word reaches Maria’s mother who warns her against Peter, for his ancestors were not just wealthy black land owners, but a family of ex-slaves who owned slaves and supported the Confederacy. Humankind may not be doing the best job at ensuring its own survival at the moment, but we can at least be proud of the heroic efforts being made by a select few at preserving and unearthing forgotten gems in our film history. As part of a demographic that’s pandered to on a 24/7 basis, it was simply impossible for me to imagine not seeing yourself represented here, there and everywhere you look. Sign up for our Email Newsletters here. Barely released in 1982 and all but unseen for over three decades, Horace B. Jenkins’ “Cane River” was an independent-film anomaly: a race and colorism-themed love story with an all-black cast, written and directed by a black filmmaker, financed by wealthy black backers. Horace B. Jenkins, an award-winning film maker, died Friday in St. Luke's Hospital in Manhattan, where he had been admitted two days earlier, following a heart attack. But indeed the 1980s were a terrible drought for big-screen depictions of African American life, with scarce opportunities in front of or behind the camera before Spike came along and kicked down the doors for a new generation. The story goes that Richard Pryor had attended the New Orleans gala premiere in disguise, with the intention of buying the movie and bringing it to Warner Bros., but he couldn’t reach a deal with the financers. “Cane River” is the story of two lovers who each descended from slaves, but of disparate opportunity: Peter (Richard Romain) comes from the lighter-skinned, property-owning Creoles of Cane River, while Maria (Tômmye Myrick) belongs to the darker-skinned families who faced greater discrimination. “He was driven to tell this story after he went to Natchitoches, where his girlfriend was from, and saw what was happening in terms of land ownership and color, and thought it was a great entry into a story. This low-key charmer stars the strapping Richard Romain as Peter Metoyer, a college football star returning to his hometown of Cane River, “a free community of color” in Louisiana’s Natchitoches Parish. Charles Burnett’s seminal “Killer of Sheep” came three years prior. The once-lost film Cane River is available now on DVD and Blu-ray Disc from Oscilloscope Laboratories. The premiere of his newest work, a feature film, ''Cane River,'' a love story filmed in rural Louisiana, has been scheduled for its New York premiere next February. The film features the lives of African Americans in the US state of Louisiana. Maria lives with her single mother and brother and works as a tour guide at a historic plantation that was owned by Peter’s distant relatives. It’s on a visit to an old plantation owned by his ancestors that Peter meets Maria Mathis (Tommye Myrick) a spiky, 22-year-old tour guide who will soon be off to college herself, having spent the four years since high school scraping together tuition. But no one really believed me, because there was nothing really tangible to show people.”. Cut to 32 years later, when the negative was discovered — along with prints and elements from hundreds of other orphaned pictures — at the recently decommissioned DuArt film lab in New York City. It’s easy to see him as a shadow figure of our poet protagonist, the man Peter might have become were he not born into his family’s advantages.

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