By Didier Allouch, host of Rendez-vous d'Amérique
My dear francophiles, francovorous and francophageous friends, on March 18th, you’ll see a beautiful short film on TV5MONDE USA, 17 Year Locust…
A film that just wouldn’t exist without TV5MONDE since it was financed through a grant awarded by TV5MONDE and #CreateLouisiana.
The goal of the grant is to promote French cultural heritage in Louisiana through movies. I don’t know who the other candidates were, but 17 Year Locust is just the perfect film for what this grant means.
It’s the story of an encounter between a young immigrant from Haiti, who chose New Orleans to be able to speak French in the U.S., and an elderly Cajun lady at the end of her life, telling him about her past in French. You’ll see a more detailed preview and an interview with its director, Logan Leblanc, in the next episode of Rendez-vous d’Amérique, starting this weekend on TV5MONDE USA.
If I say that the choice of this project was the right one for the grant, it’s because it talks about what matters the most in terms of Francophonie and its preservation in America: legacy.
The film reminds us, through the story of the old lady, that the legacy of French in Louisiana had been stopped in the 1920’s by a state decree forbidding anyone to speak French in any public places and forbidding Louisiana schools from teaching French. As the characters in the film remind us, kids were whipped for speaking French in schools. The effects of these laws were disastrous on the presence of French-language in the south of the United States.
We had to wait until the 60’s and the work of artists and writers to see a little bit of French
coming back to Louisiana’s culture. Slowly, but surely, French came back. And now, defending the French language is one of the major issues for many Louisianian lawmakers, mayors and state representatives. Speaking French in Louisiana is a thing for the young generation, as it is represented by the young character in the film.
17 Year Locust shows, that despite everything, a language is immortal as long as we’re conscious of its importance.
Louisiana lost time in stifling the legacy of French for a while. But as long as there will be artists like Logan Leblanc, director of 17 Year Locust, and as long as there will be institutions to help them promote our language through art, Francophonie will be alive and well in Louisiana.
To learn more about 17 year Locust and French Heritage in Louisiana, tune in to Rendez-vous d’Amérique on TV5MONDE USA. Click here for more information.
Exploring cultural diversity through film, cuisine, and beyond, Rendez-vous d'Amérique invites you on a journey to discover Francophone culture in America. Your host on this cultural experience is Didier Allouch - reporter, cinephile, and a familiar face on the red carpet. Click here to learn how you can subscribe to TV5MONDE USA and never miss an episode!