Conni Castille – A Sure Bet
It’s Kentucky Derby time! And what better way to celebrate the day – other than with big, floppy hats, bourbon and buckets full of Mint Juleps – than to whisper about horses… or lovely ladies… or the south.
There is a quaint Cajun town in Louisiana known as Breaux Bridge where Saturday mornings rise with Zydeco brunch at Café des Amis, afternoons equal antique shopping or kayaking along the Vermilion and the first weekend in May means gathering with the community during the town’s beloved and world-renowned Crawfish Festival (happening right now!!). Breaux Bridge is also the home of filmmaker, teacher and philosophy scholar Conni Castille.
Born of a culture where family is key and tradition runs deep, Conni rebelled, just as most young people do, searching out new ways of life, a chance to find herself and reach for a new, “better” way of living. During her travels, she discovered a deeper love and passion for her roots, which brings her to the incredible contributions she’s now offering her community and the world: an inside view into the everyday traditions imperative to Louisiana culture and how they’re transitioning with the times.
Broaching subjects from ironing to plate lunches to the plight of the state’s beloved crustacean, Conni, along with cinematographer Allison Bohl, have graced the screen with documentaries including I Always Do My Collars First, Raised on Rice and Gravy and King Crawfish. Music contributors include the talents of Dirk Powell, Kristi Guillory, Anya Burgess, and more.
This brings us to her latest release. T-Galop: A Louisiana Horse Story runs through accounts from Louisiana’s traditional Creole cowboys to Kentucky Derby winner and Louisiana-native Calvin Borel. As with her previous films, T-Galopblends the customs, foods, music and blood of the Louisiana people, informing and reminding viewers of what the state and culture encompass while also questioning the directions these customs are heading.
If you’re in the Lafayette, Louisiana neighborhood May 13, head to Acadiana Center for the Arts at 6pm for a screening of T-Galopplus a Q&A after with Ms. Conni.
T-Galop: A Louisiana Horse Story:
“Creole cowboys, Cajun jockeys, Cotton Knights and Mardi Gras revelers reveal the long history and blend between Creoles and Cajuns and the horses they love. ‘This equine love affair began more than 250 years ago on the first ranches of South Louisiana where Creoles became some of American’s first cowboys,’ explains Castille. ‘The Creole and Cajun idea of `passing a good time’ of course made its way into their horse culture, like the old bush track racing that birthed so many great jockeys, or the Mardi Gras horseback riders, or the leisurely Creole trail rides,’ says Castille. T-Galop romps playfully across South Louisiana through professional sports to community rituals bearing witness to a modern horse culture that was born many centuries ago.” – Arts & Humanities Council of SWLA
So after the Kentucky Derby, after the Crawfish Festival in Breaux Bridge and after checking out Conni’s fabulous film about Louisiana horse culture, gallop, don’t trot, to check out her other great documentaries. A star is born, bred and shining brightly in Southwest Louisiana.
I Always Do My Collars First:
“A documentary that delivers an artful and unexpectedly entertaining look at what is often ignored as a mundane chore. The story follows four dynamic Cajun women in French Louisiana as they go about their daily lives demonstrating how the simple ritual of ironing weaves its way throughout the fabric of family life and their sense of identity.” – Film Baby
Raised on Rice and Gravy:
“This documentary … is a celebration of a daily dining tradition in South Louisiana: the plate lunch house. Filmed in and around Lafayette, Raised on Rice and Gravy offers a local’s look at the kind of authentic Cajun and Creole cuisine that Acadiana natives serve themselves, not the tourists: chicken stew, smothered potatoes, and stuffed turkey wings. But the film also captures the communal nature of these plate lunch houses, where cooks and customers are able to talk face to face across the serving line.” – New Orleans Film Society
“In King Crawfish the Cajun spirit gets poured out on a communal table, even as the wild harvest is diminishing. At the [Breaux Bridge Crawfish] Festival, everything Cajuns value takes to the stage — their language, their music, their food, their dance, and their crawfish. Thousands of pounds of crawfish get served up at the festival, much of it coming from their natural habitat, the Atchafalaya Basin. But, as the film traces the crustacean from festival to Basin, it finds fishermen fighting to retain their way of life in one small fishing community.” – Tim Landry, The Porch