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Contact: Christine Payton May 15, 2012
(337) 482-6397, payton@louisiana.edu
Conni Castille’s latest documentary, T-Galop: A Louisiana Horse Story, has burst through the starting gate and is picking up speed with a series of free, local screenings.

The film will be shown at 7 p.m. tonight in Grand Coteau at the Casa Azul gallery at 232 Martin Luther King Drive. Another screening is set for Saturday, May 19 at 4:30 p.m. at the Prairie Acadian Cultural Center at 250 West Park Ave. in Eunice.

Playful and poignant, T-Galop traces the history of Louisiana’s equine connections from the colonial period to the present day, paying special attention to traditions surrounding horses in the Cajun and Creole cultures. It features sulky races, Creole trail rides and Le Tournoi de la Ville Platte, a contest inspired by medieval jousting.

Castille also explores the inclusion of horses in traditional rural Mardi Gras celebrations, where masked riders go from house to house, begging for ingredients — including live chickens — to make a gumbo.

Some of the film’s most moving moments feature Calvin Borel, the only jockey in history to win three consecutive Kentucky Derby races. A native of Catahoula, La., Borel began his career when he was just 11, riding on Louisiana’s bush tracks. Hundreds of the unsanctioned dirt tracks, carved out of cow pastures, dotted the Louisiana prairie. The races were daring and demanding — and produced dozens of professional Cajun jockeys.

Castille wrote, directed and produced the film. A UL Lafayette graduate, she is the assistant director of UL Lafayette’s Center for Moving Image Arts and an instructor who teaches English and film studies.

The film takes its name from a Cajun song, ’Tit Galop Pour Mamou, written and recorded by Dewey Balfa and released in 1965. It tells the story of a rider who sells his mule and wagon to buy treats for the children and elders in the town of Mamou. “Not surprisingly, our cultural connections to cattle and horses also show up in our music,” said Castille.

Castille’s award-winning documentaries include I Always Do My Collars First(2007), Raised on Rice and Gravy (2009) and King Crawfish (2010).

For more information about T-Galop: A Louisiana Horse Story, including screening dates and DVD availability, follow “T-Galop” on Facebook, or contact Castille at (337) 277-5292 or via email at connicastille@gmail.com.

Document last revised Tuesday, May 15, 2012 4:15 PM

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