Ninety-five years ago, an eclectic crew of filmmakers, actors and circus acrobats checked into the Costello Hotel in Morgan City to make the silent motion picture “Tarzan of the Apes.” That movie became one of the top six films of the silent era of cinema, and was one of the first to earn $1 million at the box office.
It is considered the first major motion picture shot on location in the United States outside of New York or Hollywood. It also marked the birth of Louisiana’s now thriving film industry and spawned a long line of Louisiana swamp-themed films and TV shows.
Carrie Stansbury, the director of the Cajun Coast Visitors and Convention Bureau, and a committee of Morgan City citizens are hosting the Tarzan festival. The centerpiece of the fest is the premiere of a feature-length documentary entitled “Tarzan: Lord of the Louisiana Jungle” and the release of a re-edited version of the original film “Tarzan of the Apes” with a new orchestral musical score.
Filmmakers Al Bohl and his daughter Allison Bohl will attend the festival.
While most of the festivities will take place at the Morgan City Municipal Auditorium, the big introduction to the weekend will take place Thursday night at the Louisiana State Museum in Patterson, where a yearlong exhibit dedicated to the Edgar Rice Burroughs creation will open with a ribbon-cutting and public reception from 6-8 p.m.
Self-guided tours and swamp tours with Cajun Jack during the day April 13 lead up to the evening’s premier of the Bohls’ eagerly anticipated documentary at 7:30 p.m. at the auditorium. The film explores the making of the movie and myths surrounding it. Tickets are $10 for the documentary and $15 for the documentary and a showing of the silent Tarzan movie.
All day Saturday festivities include the Zydeco/Cajun music band Damon Troy and the Final Five, a Tarzan and Jane look-alike contest, free Tarzan movies, a Tarzan yell contest, a climbing wall, children’s activities and, of course, food. DeWet Du Toit is coming from South Africa as part of his quest to be the next movie Tarzan.
Saturday’s schedule includes:
—Tarzan Fun/Run, 8-10 a.m.
—Audubon Zoo traveling exhibit, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
—Rock Wall and Jungle Jump, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
—Coloring station by Stazione, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Register to win a giant stuffed gorilla, compliments of Stazione Convenience Stores.
—Chimpanzee Treat Making Area, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
—Sound System, 1-4 p.m.
—Tarzan movie, “Tarzan and His Mate,” auditorium ballroom, 11 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.
—Bohl documentary, “Tarzan™, Lord of the Louisiana Jungle,” auditorium theatre. Tickets $10 for documentary, $15 for documentary and Tarzan silent movie, 1-2:30 p.m.
—Tarzan movie, Du Toit’s audition video and “Tarzan’s Greatest Adventure,” auditorium ballroom, 1:15-2:45 p.m.
—Tarzan tug-of-war competition, 1:30-2 p.m.
—Tarzan movie, Disney’s “Tarzan,” auditorium ballroom, 3:15-4:45 p.m.
—Costume and look-alike competition, 2:30-3:30 p.m.
—Yell competition, 3:30-4 p.m.
—Damon Troy and Final Five. A native of Lake Charles, Damon Troy has been playing music since he was 7 years old. His music is an upbeat Zydeco-Cajun, but on occasion mixes in a good Cajun ballad. An established artist, Damon has released four CDs, including original tunes. His song “Rest Your Heart” hit the R&R billboard chart. Troy plays seven instruments including drums, guitar, bass, fiddle, piano, steel guitar and the accordion, his go-to instrument. His talent and achievements have taken him all over the world, 4:30-8 p.m.
—Re-edited 1917 “Tarzan, the Ape Man” movie with new music score, auditorium theatre. Tickets, $10 for documentary, $15 for documentary and silent movie, 7-9 p.m.
—Tarzan’s Greatest Adventure, outside auditorium, 8-9:30 p.m.