Filmmaker Horace B. Jenkins’ only feature “Cane River,” made in 1982, was nearly lost. Jenkins died soon after completing it, and his film went undistributed, and no archival print survived.
But on November 1st “Cane River” will screen at the Academy, a miracle? Maybe Jenkin’s spirit was so strong and his desire to have an audience see his film was so great that he willed the negative to be found. It’s my theory because in 2014 “Cane River” was restored and funded by a campaign conducted by IndieCollect.
Nearly four decades lost and now, on Friday, November 1st at 7:30 pm at the Linwood Dunn Theater (1313 Vine Street), the Academy will step up and screen the 35mm print of Jenkin’s “Cane River” marking the first time the film will be shown in Los Angeles. Previous screenings of “Cane River” took place, last fall, at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C. and earlier this year at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
“Cane River” centers around a young man named Peter Metoyer (Richard Romain), a recent college graduate and college football star who has turned down the N.F.L. draft (and the New York Jets) to return to his home town of the title, in rural northwest Louisiana, to work on his father’s farm and write poetry.
At home, Peter visits a well-preserved eighteenth-century estate that was owned by his distant ancestors. He connects with the tour guide Maria Mathis (Tômmye Myrick), a young woman who’s about to head off to college, in New Orleans. The two become fast friends bonding over a book about the history of the estate, which Peter borrows and learns the estate was founded by an enslaved African woman who married a French man and then herself owned slaves. To his utter shock Peter discovers that his ancestors collaborated with the Confederacy in the Civil War, and, to this day, the Cane River Creoles keep apart socially from poorer, mostly darker-skinned black people, who are, in turn, wary of them. Maria’s mother (Carol Sutton) is especially distrustful of Peter and insistent on separating the pair.
At the November 1st Academy screening the films lead actors, Tommye Myrick, and Richard Romain, will be in attendance. The panel will be moderated by Brickson Diamond.
Tickets are currently on sale for the Friday, November 1st at 7:30 pm screening at the Linwood Dunn Theater (1313 Vine Street). Ticket prices are $5 for regular admission and $3 for members and students, and they can be purchased here: https://www.oscars.org/events/cane-river.