Screened as part of NZIFF 2015

Hot Pepper 1973

Directed by Les Blank

Shot in 1972, this is an energetic down-home portrait of the Louisiana Creole musician Clifton Chenier aka the King of Zydeco. Les Blank beautifully captures the propulsive, foot-tapping joy of Chenier’s music.

USA In English and French with English subtitles
54 minutes Blu-ray

Director, Producer, Photography, Editor


Maureen Gosling


Clifton Chenier

In 1972 folk arts documentarian Les Blank turned his attention to backwoods Louisiana and made a series of memorable films about Cajun and Creole culture, cuisine and music. In Hot Pepper music takes centre stage as Blank presents a wonderfully laid-back portrait of Clifton Chenier, the King of Zydeco. There’s plenty of furious accordion-based dance music from the master to get your toes tapping, along with the expected colourful, off-the-cuff reminiscences, but the film is equally a portrait of Chenier’s town of Lafayette, and Blank is never too preoccupied with his illustrious subject to resist wandering off to take in some local colour. — AL

“In addition to scenes of Chenier belting it out at sweaty dance halls, the film winds his music through the bayous and byways of the countryside (some of Blank’s most stunning photography!) and into the streets and homes of his people. The off-hand folk wisdom and random jive that Blank loves so much is here in bounteous profusion.” — Michael Goodwin, City Magazine