Award-winning writer-director Kasi Lemmons feature debut Eve’s Bayou is getting The Criterion Collection Blu-ray treatment. This collector’s edition comes in time for its 25th anniversary and the holiday season. The Blu-ray features a gorgeous new cover design by Nessim Higson. The film was originally released on November 7th, 1997. It also saw Lemmons step behind the camera to bring to life the southern gothic story of betrayal, rage, and the fragility of memory.
For those of you who need a refresher course, or have not seen Eve’s Bayou yet:
“The summer I killed my father, I was ten years old . . .” So begins Kasi Lemmons’ spellbinding feature debut, an evocative journey into the maze of memory, steeped in fragrant southern-gothic atmosphere. In 1960s Louisiana, a young girl (Jurnee Smollett) sees her well-to-do family unravel in the wake of the infidelities of her charming father (Samuel L. Jackson)—setting in motion a series of deceptions and betrayals that will upend her world and challenge her understanding of reality. Rooted in Creole history, folklore, and mysticism, Eve’s Bayou is a scintillating showcase for a powerhouse ensemble of Black actresses—including Lynn Whitfield, Debbi Morgan, and the legendary Diahann Carroll as a voodoo priestess—as well as a profoundly cathartic exploration of trauma, forgiveness, and the elusive nature of truth.
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The movie stars Samuel L. Jackson, Lynn Whitfield, Debbi Morgan, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Branford Marsalis, Lisa Nicole Carson, Meagan Good, Jurnee Smollett, and Diahann Carroll. One of the things that makes the movie stand out is the all-star and all-Black cast. The film received many acting nominations from the NAACP Image Awards, The Satellite Awards, Independent Spirit Awards, and more.
In 2018, Eve’s Bayou, was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry. They deemed it “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” In February 2008, the film made Time’s list of the “25 Most Important Films on Race”
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The Criterion release will allow some of us to own a physical copy. It might also encourage a new audience to discover this beloved film. The Blu-ray is packed with bonus content for film lovers. The director-approved special features include:
- New 4K digital restoration of the director’s cut, supervised by director Kasi Lemmons and cinematographer Amy Vincent, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack
- New 4K digital restoration of the original 108-minute theatrical-release version
- Audio commentary on the director’s cut featuring Lemmons, Vincent, producer Caldecot Chubb, and editor Terilyn A. Shropshire
- Dr. Hugo (1996), a short film Lemmons made as a proof of concept for Eve’s Bayou, in a new 4K digital transfer
- New interview with Lemmons
- Cast reunion footage
- Interview with composer Terence Blanchard
- New program showcasing black-and-white Polaroids that Vincent took during production
- Cast and crew photographs by William Eggleston
- English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- PLUS: An essay by film scholar Kara Keeling
If you are as excited as I am about taking Eve’s Bayou home, then let me know at @misssharai.