‘The Five Priests’ earns international attention

“The Five Priests” documentary – which draws on research by LSU Shreveport history professor Dr. Cheryl White and colleagues — is earning worldwide attention during the current international film festival season.

The full-length film is based on “Shreveport Martyrs of 1873: The Surest Path to Heaven” by Dr. White, historian W. Ryan Smith and Father Peter Mangum, the rector of the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans in Shreveport. “Shreveport Martyrs of 1873: The Surest Path to Heaven” was published by The History Press in 2021 and is available in hardcover, paperback and e-book formats.

The LSUS Foundation is among underwriters for the documentary. The foundation also sponsored the film’s premiere at The Strand Theatre in Shreveport in November.

“It is so exciting to think that all over the world people are going to be watching a film and learning about Shreveport, Louisiana,” said LSUS Foundation Executive Director Laura Perdue. “As the LSUS Foundation, we are thrilled that one of our own, Dr. White, was instrumental in this research.”

The film is also a finalist in the Texas Film Festival. The Rome Prisma Independent Film Festival, the Christian Film Festival and the Cannes World Film Festival have named “The Five Priests” as an Official Selection. The Cannes World Film Festival, founded in 2020, is a hybrid competition that awards monthly and annual prizes in a variety of film and video categories.

“The Five Priests” features interviews with Dr. White, Mr. Smith and Father Mangum, Catholic authorities and Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins. Cutting-edge animation by Richard Langberg of West Coast Visual FX brings to life the story behind the dry documents that record the deadly outbreak of yellow fever.

“This recognition from Cannes demonstrates the universal appeal of this story. ‘The Five Priests’ is not a Shreveport story, a Catholic story, or even a Louisiana story,” Dr. White says. “It is a timeless narrative about hope, which is inherent to the human condition.”