EXCLUSIVE: Oscilloscope Laboratories is looking to bring more marginalized narratives to the spotlight with its recent acquisition of Cane River. The indie film company founded by the late, great Adam Yauch has acquired the North American rights to Horace B. Jenkins’s one and only feature film that very few people have seen since 1982.
Jenkins died after the premiere and the film never received full distribution, but Oscilloscope is about to change all that. Newly remastered by IndieCollect and O-Scope, Cane River is set to open at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York on February 7, with national rollout to select locations to follow. A 4K version of the film was screened earlier this year in New York at the Museum of Modern Art’s “To Save and Project” film festival.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will premiere Cane River in Los Angeles on November 1 at the Linwood Dunn Theater. This will be the first time it will be screened in Los Angeles and lead actors Tommye Myrick and Richard Romain will be on hand for a panel discussion.
Written, produced, and directed by the Emmy-winning documentarian Jenkins, Cane River is a racially-themed love story shot in Natchitoches Parish, a “free community of color” in Louisiana. In addition to stars Myrick and Romain the film features an entirely African American cast and crew. A budding, forbidden romance lays bare the tensions between two groups both descended from slaves but of disparate opportunity—the light-skinned, property-owning Creoles and the darker-skinned, more disenfranchised families of the area. The film was praised by Richard Pryor when it made and it disappeared after Jenkins died.
The film was ahead of its time and was a blockbuster fronted by a Black cast and crew before the Black community had the opportunity to have a blockbuster that put their narrative at the forefront. Although it hadn’t been seen by many, the film blazed the trail for likeminded films and was groundbreaking as it was largely financed by the Rhodes family of New Orleans, who have a history that spans centuries and generations.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled to have the opportunity to bring Cane River to audiences. Better late than never,” said O-Scope’s Dan Berger. “This is a complex and subtle film that has a lot to say and despite the nearly four decades that have passed since it was made, it is as relevant today as it was in 1982.”
“I have so much respect for O-Scope; their collective eye is impeccable, so to have Horace’s film released in partnership with them is a dream,” said filmmaker Sacha Jenkins, Horace Jenkins’s son. “O-Scope’s founder, Adam Yauch, might still be on the job from the great beyond. I have a feeling he and my dad had a great conversation about Cane River finally getting its due.”
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