Located in the heart of Cajun country, the annual Cinema on the Bayou Film Festival is dedicated to presenting narrative, documentary and animated films and filmmakers with truly original voices in one of the friendliest, most unique cultures in the world. COTB is also committed to promoting both established and emerging filmmakers and the relationship-building that is crucial to their continued work.

Cinema on the Bayou, Louisiana's second oldest film festival, was founded in 2006 in Lafayette, Louisiana, by filmmaker Pat Mire after Hurricane Katrina caused the cancellation of the New Orleans Film Festival in the fall of 2005. Pat was contacted by the National Film Board of Canada, which offered a U.S. premiere of the documentary MAROON, by famed Quebecois filmmaker Andre Gladu, which was originally scheduled to premiere in New Orleans. Cinema on the Bayou was launched in response, and Gladu and his film opened the inaugural Festival, which screened more than 40 films. Pat continues to serve as Artistic Director of the Festival.

Since 2006, Cinema on the Bayou has presented hundreds of internationally acclaimed documentary, narrative fiction and animated films, with filmmakers in attendance from across the United States and around the world. The Festival is now unique among film festivals in the U.S. in that it also regularly screens a large number of French-language independent films and presents filmmakers from throughout the Francophone world. The Festival also has the distinction among film festivals of having given the Audience Award to Moonbot Studio's animated film THE FANTASTIC FLYING BOOKS OF MR. MORRIS LESSMORE one year before the film was nominated for and won an Academy Award in the animated short category.

In 2017, the Festival lineup of 158 films was chosen from a pool of more than 1,200 submissions and included 22 narrative features and 20 documentary features, 81 narrative shorts, 17 documentary shorts, and 18 animated shorts. The vast majority of the films were World, U.S. or Louisiana Premieres. Included within the official selections were more than 25 French-language films and 22 films from Japan, including the U.S. Premiere of the narrative feature TATARA SAMURAI with director Yoshinari Nishikori and actors Sho Aoyagi and Naoki Kobayashi in attendance from Tokyo. In addition to screening films from across the United States, the Festival also screened films from India, Australia, the U.K., Sweden, Spain, Austria, Cyprus, Mauritius, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada and France. More than 200 filmmakers, actors, musicians and other industry professionals attended from around the United States and the world, including from Canada, Japan, India, Sweden and Australia.

Cinema on the Bayou has been selected as the Editors' Choice for "goings-on in the South and beyond" by Garden and Gun Magazine. Describing our Cajun Country setting as a "stew of French, Spanish, and African influences," the Editors concluded that it was an ideal spot for Cinema on the Bayou, an international film festival "charged with exposing attendees to the most original voices in film while fostering cultural exchange among the French-speaking peoples of the world."

Cinema on the Bayou also made the list of the Top 15 Winter Film Festivals in the U.S. by AudNews, an on-line magazine for filmmakers and film lovers.

Over the years, the Festival also has earned the respect of its many loyal filmmaker alums who come from around the world to share in the joie de vivre that defines the culture here. It says a lot about the festival that these highly talented independent filmmakers not only make repeat visits to Cinema on the Bayou, but also recommend the Festival to their filmmaker colleagues.

Cinema on the Bayou also has partnered with several independent film distribution companies in the United States and Canada, whose representatives attend the Festival, in order to facilitate relationships designed to provide opportunities for filmmakers to reach wider, more diverse audiences.

The Festival is committed to creating these essential connections amid exquisite Cajun cuisine, amazing local music performances, and thought-provoking discussions, both on expert panels and at after-hours parties, about all that is near and dear to that creature known as the independent filmmaker.

Awards & Prizes

FILM CATEGORIES: Narrative Feature, Narrative Short, Documentary Feature, Documentary Short and Animated Short.

SCREENING COMMITTEES AND JUDGES: The Festival screening committees include filmmaker alums, and the roster of judges includes filmmaker alum award-winners from the previous Festival.

AWARDS: The "goujon caille" (the spotted catfish -- Cajun culture's most prized catfish) award, by renowned artists Pat and Andre Juneau, is given in the following categories:

Director's Choice Special Jury Award
Le Train Bleu Award
Best Narrative Feature Award
Special Jury Mention - Narrative Feature Award
Best Narrative Short Award
Special Jury Mention - Narrative Short Award
Best Documentary Feature Award
Special Jury Mention - Documentary Feature Award
Best Documentary Short Award
Special Jury Mention - Documentary Short Award
Best Animated Short Award
Special Jury Mention - Animated Short Award
Best Experimental Short Award
Special Jury Mention - Experimental Short Award
Inspiration Award
Audience Award

Cash and other prizes and awards will be listed later.

FESTIVAL PASSES AND LODGING: For all filmmakers whose films are accepted, Cinema on the Bayou offers two all-access passes for filmmakers in attendance and complimentary lodging for up to four days for filmmakers traveling from outside the United States and for up to two days for filmmakers traveling from outside Louisiana. The Festival also offers plenty of after-hours food and drink. As Founder and Artistic Director Pat Mire likes to say, "we weigh them when they arrive and again when they leave, and I promise you, no one looses weight at Cinema on the Bayou!"

Rules & Terms

FILM CATEGORIES: Cinema on the Bayou Film Festival is open to all narrative, documentary, animated and experimental films of all styles and subjects, as well as foreign language films. Foreign language films must have English subtitles.

ELIGIBILITY: The film must have been completed after January 31, 2016.

PREMIERE REQUIREMENTS: Preference will be given to U.S. and Louisiana premieres. Films that have screened publicly in Lafayette, Louisiana or that have been released in theaters or on VOD or other internet outlets are NOT eligible for submission. By submitting the film, the filmmaker (or other person submitting) confirms that the film has not been and will not be screened in Lafayette, Louisiana or released on VOD or other internet outlets prior to Cinema on the Bayou 2018.

SUBMISSION FORMAT AND REQUIREMENTS: Either an online screener or 2 DVDs (NTSC Region 1 only) must be submitted (postmarked) by the applicable submission deadline. Please include the film title, running time, the date the film was completed, the tracking number, and the submission category on each DVD. Do not put multiple films on the same DVD. Please test your DVDs on several makes and models of players. DVDs will not be returned, and all submissions become the property of the Festival.

The filmmaker agrees to be responsible for all shipping and insurance costs for shipping submission materials to the Festival.

SCREENING HISTORY: Please include with your submission the screening history of the film and its premiere status, and please keep this information updated. While a cover letter is not required, we welcome one with information concerning your interest in Cinema on the Bayou and your inspiration for the film.

CONTACT INFORMATION: Please include with your submission your physical address as well as the best number and email by which to contact you.

RECEIPT AND ACKNOWLEDGMENT: To received acknowledgment of receipt of your entry (in addition to FilmFreeway acknowledgement), you must enclose a self-addressed, stamped postcard with your entry.

PAYMENT: Submission fees can be paid via FilmFreeway, PayPal, or by money order or check in U.S. dollars to Cinema on the Bayou Film Society, 101 Duclos Street, Lafayette, LA 70506.

EXHIBITION FORMAT: If your film is accepted, the Festival must receive, by December 23, 2017, the following: 1) an exhibition copy of the film in one of the following formats: H.264 or DCP (ONLY if requested by the Festival); and 2) a backup dvd or Blu-Ray (Region 1).

The filmmaker agrees to be responsible for all shipping and insurance costs for shipping exhibition materials to the Festival.

To receive the return of a copy of a film, the filmmaker must enclose a self-addressed envelope with sufficient postage with the exhibition copy.

ADDITIONAL TERMS OF ENTRY: Cinema on the Bayou reserves the right to disqualify any submission without refund of submission fees.

By submitting the film, the filmmaker (or other person submitting) confirms that the film has not and will not be screened in Lafayette, Louisiana or released in theaters or on VOD or other internet outlets prior to COTB, 2018. He or she also confirms that he or she is authorized to submit the film, has cleared or will clear all intellectual property rights necessary for the screening of the film at this film festival, and holds harmless Cinema on the Bayou from any liability arising from the submission or use of the film. All submissions become the property of Cinema on the Bayou, and DVD's will not be returned. If the film is accepted, it is with the understanding that clips, photos and stills of and related to the film may be used to promote the Festival.

Cinema on the Bayou does not pay screening fees or guarantee travel or distribution for filmmakers.

All accepted films may be screened more than once and are scheduled at the discretion of the Cinema on the Bayou Film Festival staff.

Cinema on the Bayou Film Festival is hereby granted the right to utilize an excerpt from any film submitted and accepted for exhibition at the festival for promotional purposes. The Festival is also hereby granted the right to utilize images and/or biographical information of the filmmakers for promotional purposes.

By completing the online entry form, the person submitting the film acknowledges his/her full and complete acceptance of the terms hereof and that he/she has read and complies with all 2018 Cinema on the Bayou Film Festival Terms of Entry.

8 Reviews

Overall Rating
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    Jamie Kennedy

    Fun festival in art infused South La. People and food are great! Had a lot of fun.

    March 2017
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    Bart Wild

    This is a great festival with film makers from all over the world, some returning as often as they can due to the overwhelming hospitality of the organizers!

    March 2017
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    Jessy Williamson

    A+ Great Team, Great Festival!!!!

    February 2017
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    Gene Desrochers

    This festival was a lot of fun! I especially liked my contact Rebecca. Others at the festival were not always as friendly and that hurts when you traveled over a thousand miles and spent a lot of money to be there. That said, the screening itself was very well attended and the audience was enthusiastic about filmmaking--ultimately that's what it's all about and that was a special experience! I loved the Q&A session and the other films were high quality endeavors that made me proud to be a part of this festival!

    February 2017
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    Csaba Bene Perlenberg

    A nice little festival, but surprisingly low-key for being in its twelfth year. The organizers couldnĀ“t have been friendlier, and the audience were AMAZING, but the festival does not seem to be well known by the locals in Lafayette, which is a shame. The documentary programming was excellent!

    February 2017