City to host inaugural film festival

Natchitoches will host the first annual Cane River Film Festival March 23-24. This event celebrates the 30-year anniversary of “Steel Magnolias,” which was famously filmed in Natchitoches.

Kelly Jackson, founder and producer of the festival, emphasized the connection the city has with film.

“Natchitoches has a long and intimate history with American cinema,” she said. “The Cane River Film Festival represents the latest chapter in that history. We are as diverse as the community that we represent.”

Students and filmmakers from across the state will present their work, including Northwestern State University graduates Hammond Lake and Sidney Jackson.

Lake is also a panelist on the “Louisiana Independent Filmmakers” professional guest Q&A. His film “What’s Safe” is about a struggling marriage and infidelity.

During his time at NSU, Lake co-founded the Student Film Society. He graduated in 2016 with degrees in English and liberal arts with concentrations in film studies and fine and performing arts, respectively. Lake is currently studying advertising at Southern Methodist University’s Temerlin Advertising Institute.

“It’s a great feeling having the chance to have a short film shown in Natchitoches,” he said. “To embrace this cinematic past with a festival that highlights current local filmmakers is a rare opportunity that I’m glad to be part of.”

Other panels include “Steel Magnolias Film Sites Inside View” with NSU Professor Emeritus Tommy Whitehead and Jerry Pierce, NSU vice president for external affairs, and a session with Bob Mora, Jr., a two-time Emmy Award winner and producer of popular television shows “America’s Next Top Model” and “The Amazing Race.”

Outside of film, the festival features live performances by Indigeaux, Cane River Soul, Rick Pierce, De’Lontrell Thomas and DeShawn Washington, an NSU alumnus who previously performed on NBC’s “The Voice.”

There are also historic horse and carriage rides and walking tours through the historic district of Natchitoches, several different food options and vendors, and family friendly activities for both children and adults.

The Cane River Film Festival begins March 23 and ends March 24 with an 8 p.m. showing of “Steel Magnolias” on the Riverbank Stage. Admission is $10 for adults and free for children under 12. A full schedule of events can be found at