Glen Pitre is best known as the writer/director of acclaimed Louisiana-set movies such as The Man Who Came Back, Home Front, Belizaire the Cajun, Huit Piastres et Demie!, and La Fièvre Jaune, several of which featured Oscar-winning actors in their casts.
Born at Cut Off, Louisiana, Pitre worked his way through Harvard by fishing shrimp each summer. After graduating cum laude in Visual and Environmental Studies, he returned to the bayou where he supported his filmmaking by working in the offshore oil fields. By age 25, American Film magazine dubbed him “father of the Cajun cinema” as his low-budget, French dialect “gumbo westerns” broke house records in bayou country theaters. With the help of the Sundance Institute Director’s Lab, his internationally-lauded Belizaire the Cajun became his first English-language production.
Since then Pitre’s work, frequently in collaboration with wife Michelle Benoit, most often about life in his native Louisiana, has encompassed a variety of media. Determined to master every item in the storyteller’s toolbox, his credits jump from internationally released feature film, to designing the exhibits for a natural history museum, to an IMAX movie, to a book project, to a 14 screen video wall, to a PBS/CPB commissioned documentary, then to on-stage storytelling at a folk festival in Martinique or Montreal.
Beyond Louisiana, Pitre has gigged as director in Chicago, producer in Hollywood, documentarian in New York, and screenwriter in Mumbai. His for-hire scriptwriting spans almost every genre, sit-com to horror to musical to sports to drama. He often works solo, but has employed at times over 300 people.
Pitre’s body of work as a movie director, screenwriter, novelist, playwright, documentary filmmaker, museum designer, TV and radio producer, songwriter, and non-fiction author has earned him numerous awards including an honorary doctorate and a knighthood from France. He’s been interviewed on CNN and MSNBC, and featured in the New York Times and USA Today. His work has been translated into more than two dozen languages. In a 2006 book, America’s most famous film critic, Roger Ebert, acclaimed Pitre “a legendary American regional director.”
What are the programs and initiatives helping our veterans successfully transition to civilian life?
Since 2001, 2.6 million service men and women have been deployed to support operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Twenty-six percent of Louisiana’s veterans fought in these conflicts. The needs for these veterans are plentiful including securing employment and housing, and dealing with the mental rigors of transitioning from military back to civilian life.
Louisiana Public Square explores the unique programs and initiatives that are helping our state’s younger veterans successfully overcome these challenges on “Louisiana Veterans Back Home” Wednesday, October 24 at 7 p.m. on LPB and in New Orleans on WLAE. (Recording Thursday, October 18.)
Veterans Coming Home is a collaborative, multi-platform public media project between Wisconsin Public Television and Kindling Group in partnership with local stations and other national organizations. Veterans Coming Home is made possible with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.