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Local Filmmakers Catch Some Buzz

David Baugnon grew up in New Orleans, attending Archbishop Rummel High School, and then Loyola University’s broadcast production program. While there, he wrote, directed, and filmed episodes of “Student Affairs,” a soap opera for the college’s student TV station. After graduation, Baugnon taught English in Japan for a few years, and then came back home to work on a screenplay. “I love New Orleans,” he comments, “but I was having a hell of a time getting any work done.” So he followed a girl (his future wife) to New York. Now living there full time, Baugnon teaches screenwriting at the Pratt Institute and Writers Bootcamp, and also works on screenplays and his directorial career.

Made specifically for entry into the New Orleans Film Festival, Baugnon’s film Matisyahu is a documentary short about a Hasidic, reggae-singing, human-beatbox rapper. Filmed over two months, it mixes scenes of Matisyahu (Hebrew for “Matthew”) performing in concert with scenes of him praying in synagogue. Along the way, he explains his unlikely conversion and the links he finds between reggae music and Orthodox Judaism. Unlike some documentarians, Baugnon is content to stay firmly behind the camera and keep the film focused on its star – at a fundraiser concert, Baugnon remembers, “I saw this guy and said, ‘I have to film him!’” Matisyahu won a Special Jury Prize at the God on Film Festival in New York, but Baugnon’s return to New Orleans is even more special: he says, “My New Orleans background is the filter through which I see everything. Being in New Orleans opened me up to appreciate a man like Matisyahu.”

David Baugnon’s Matisyahu will be shown Friday, October 8th at 9 pm at the CAC.



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