It was unfortunate that I arrived late for the double documentary screening of Everybody Promenade and It's in the Blood. Though missing the entirety of the first offering (an introduction to square dancing tractors), I was able to catch more of the latter, directed by Eric Scholl and Cyndi Moran.
Presented in the Wisconsin Own's series in the Wisconsin Film Festival, It's in the Blood looks at the life and music of Leo Abshire, a fiddle-making legend in Louisiana. Shot on DV and crafted in the vein of most modern historical docs, it weaves together first person interviews with archival video footage and still photos to make the past come alive.
As was certainly intended, the accordion and fiddle-based Cajun tunes performed by musicians young and old was the centerpiece of the film. Taking a pilgrimage through the dance joints and Francophone accents of the Cajun heartland west of Lafayette, Scholl and Moran take a close and respectful look at the life of an irascible sage in that musical culture.
As a fan of The Cajun Strangers' regular gigs at the Essen Haus, the music of It's in the Blood and the stories behind it were a comforting and interesting way to kick off my second night of the film fest. The moderately-sized crowd in the theater did too, applauding appreciatively as the credits rolled.
Both filmmakers attended the screening, and took time to speak about their documentary. They discussed meeting Abshire at Mardi Gras one year, their nine-year journey in making the documentary, and their observations and thoughts on the physical and social landscape of Cajun Louisiana after the hurricane season of 2005. One audience member, meanwhile, noted that there is a Cajun music festival in Dodgeville this weekend.
It's in the Blood and Everybody Promenade were the first two films of the festival to be screened at Monona Terrace.