Two award-winning independent filmmakers will talk about their work and its roots in Louisiana folk culture on Friday, March 15.

As part of its Distinguished Lecturer Series, the LSU Department of English will host “From Belizaire to Beasts: Louisiana Folklife and Filmmaking,” a conversation with Glen Pitre and Benh Zeitlin, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Dalton J. Woods Auditorium, Room 1001, of LSU’s Energy, Coast, and Environment Building on campus.

Admission is free.

In their films, Pitre, known for Belizaire the Cajun,Haunted Waters,Fragile Lands and The Scoundrel’s Wife, and Academy Award nominee Zeitlin, known for Beasts of the Southern Wild and Glory at Sea, both depict wetlands communities whose traditional ways of life are threatened by coastal erosion and other forces. Their informal lecture is sponsored by the LSU College of Humanities & Social Sciences, LSU Department of English, the Program for the Study of Film and Media Arts, LSU School of the Coast and Environment and the Louisiana Folklore Society.

Pitre is a Lafourche Parish native who worked his way through Harvard University by shrimping each summer. By age 25, he had been dubbed “father of the Cajun cinema” by American Film magazine, when his French-dialect gumbo westerns created the first real Cajun ethnic cinema.

Pitre’s first English-language feature, Belizaire the Cajun, was an award-winning story of 19th-century south Louisiana. Since then, his work has gained him many awards, including an honorary doctorate, a knighthood from France, and recognition as a legendary American regional director. Other films include award-winning documentaries such as American Creole,Good for What Ails Youand Willie Francis Must Die Again.

Zeitlin is a 30-year-old independent filmmaker, composer and animator living in New Orleans. His first feature film, Beasts of the Southern Wild, is a story of survival and tenacity in a slowly sinking coastal Louisiana community.

The film has received international acclaim and has won numerous awards. It was also nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. Critics have called Beasts of the Southern Wild a masterpiece, an “explosion of joy” and “sheer poetry on the screen.” Son of two prominent New York City folklorists, Zeitlin is a graduate of the film program at Wesleyan University and founder of the Court 13 independent filmmaking collective. He moved to New Orleans in 2008 while making his first short film, Glory at Sea, about the tenacity of Hurricane Katrina survivors.

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