Eve's Bayou

Directed by Kasi Lemmons.
With Samuel L. Jackson, Lynn Whitfield, Debbi Morgan.
US, 1997, 35mm, color, 109 min.
Print source: Swank

The debut feature of Harriet director Kasi Lemmons, Eve’s Bayou is a haunting coming-of-age story and meditation on the power of memory to both heal and reopen lasting wounds. Movingly conjuring a Louisiana childhood steeped in local culture and family lore, Eve’s Bayou follows the awakening of young girl as she comes to realize that her father is not the man and hero she once believed. Played with fiery intensity by eleven-year old Jurnee Smollett, Eve finds the courage to confront the adults who have sheltered her while trying to understand the dark secrets that they impart. Produced by Samuel L. Jackson—who delivers an electrifying performance as Eve’s profligately adulterous father—Eve’s Bayou is today recognized as a classic of black cinema. Although the film received almost universal critical praise, and despite Kasi Lemmons’ path-breaking work as an African American woman director, Eve’s Bayou was completely overlooked by the Oscars and faded into obscurity until its recent rediscovery, helped in part by its 2018 selection by the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry.

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