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Panelist Bio

Glen Pitre
Louisiana Filmmaker,
Côte Blanche Productions

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.”

Current Topic

     08/18 - The Power of Reading

How can we make inroads to improve adult literacy in Louisiana and champion a joy of reading from pre-school into adulthood?
The ability to read sets the foundation of who we are and what we can be. Through reading we expand our world, learn new things and increase our base of knowledge. In fact, a parent’s reading level is the greatest factor in a child’s academic success. Children who can’t read proficiently by the third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school.

In Louisiana, 20 percent of adults are illiterate – five points higher than the national rate. How is Louisiana combatting its illiteracy problem across generational lines? How can we make inroads to improve adult literacy in Louisiana and champion a joy of reading from pre-school into adulthood?

Louisiana Public Square: The Power of Reading looks for answers and explores the value of lifelong reading through the lens of the PBS series The Great American Read Wednesday, August 22 at 7pm on LPB and in New Orleans on WLAE. (Recorded Tuesday, August 14 in the Magnolia Performing Arts Pavilion at Baton Rouge Community College.)

Our panelists are:
- Linda-Marie Barrett, Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA)
- Rebecca Hamilton, MLIS; Louisiana State Librarian
- Danny Heitman; Journalist and Louisiana author
- Miranda Restovic, Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (LEH).
- Gary Robertson; Adult Literacy Advocates

The program features interviews with John Cavalier, owner of Cavalier House Books; Gary Robertson, Executive Director of Adult Literacy Advocates; representatives from the LEH PRIME TIME intergenerational reading program, and Superintendent John White with the Louisiana Department of Education.

LPB CEO Beth Courtney and Robyn Merrick, Southern University VP of External Affairs, host the show.

Louisiana Public Square can also be heard on public radio stations WRKF in Baton Rouge; Red River Radio in Shreveport and Monroe; and WWNO in New Orleans. Check their station websites for schedule.

This episode of Louisiana Public Square is underwritten by Community Coffee’s Cash for Schools Program, the Louisiana Forestry Association, LSU Press and the Southern Independent Booksellers’ Authors Round the South.

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Special Presentation

     05/16 - Louisiana Veterans Coming Home

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     09/18 - Revisiting Reform

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