Hurricane Katrina

Gavin MillerGavin Miller’s documentary Hurricane Katrina Through the Eyes of the Children is a heartbreaking flashback to a disaster that ruined homes and separated families.

Miller interviews victims of Katrina throughout the classrooms and halls of Ruston Jr. High School in Ruston, Louisiana. The film opens with Briea, a victim of Hurricane Katrina. She gives a solemn and impactful interview about half of her family and friends being lost in the disaster and how she can no longer return home.

Miller crafts a diverse atmosphere of experiences, interviewing children from New Orleans, students of the junior high, teachers and the principal. Each backstory is different, those affected describing stressful situations, loss and heartbreak.

Human connections have helped these kids adapt, but the evacuees of the hurricane struggled to fit in with the students at their new school. Some children find the way the evacuee children talk humorous. But as they are interviewed together, they agree that they are all the same age and like the same things.

The female teachers of Ruston Jr. High School keep their interviews professional and explain the help provided to the children. But, underneath some maternal instincts, there is an unsettling feeling about their own families and their safety throughout the disaster.

Miller creates a personal atmosphere with each interviewee. The viewer really feels as if they are witnessing the moment, listening to their story, asking questions about their family and homes, wondering where they will be months from now and wondering if they will ever move back to New Orleans.

The documentary’s greatest strengths are beautiful stories of how heartbroken people are making the most of their situation, living day to day with the clothes on their backs, food on their stoves, good company and new friends.

You can watch Gavin Miller’s new documentary in its entirety here.

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Wendell Pierce in ‘Brothers From The Bottom’

by Jordan McGuire on May 6, 2015

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Brothers from the Bottom will commemorate the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and star Tony Award winner Wendell Pierce in a limited engagement. Here’s the press release: 

Following their acclaimed Brooklyn run, the award-winning Billie Holiday Theater (BHT) at Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation and the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA) Stage Company join forces to present the Post-Katrina play set in New Orleans, Brothers from the Bottom, starring Wendell Pierce who also joins this team, as a producer. The limited engagement, in commemoration of the 10th year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, will run from June 5 – 28, 2015 at the Lupin Hall at NOCCA.

Brothers from the Bottom, written and directed by BHT Artistic Director, Jackie Alexander, deals with the hot button topic of gentrification. In the play, a real estate project threatens the fabric of a New Orleans neighborhood, and unravels the bond between brothers. In this “naturalistic play,” “the acting stands way above the flood line.” With a “terrific” performance by Mr. Pierce and a “particularly exuberant” performance by Kevin Mambo, the play is “ground[ed] by the actor’s sensitivity and verve. The neighborhood may need renewal and repair. These performances don’t.”  – New York Times

Wendell Pierce, an accomplished Julliard trained actor, has conquered all realms of media with critically praised performances in theater, film, television and broadcast radio. The TONY, Emmy, Obie and Peabody winning actor and producer is best known for his portrayals on HBO’s ground breaking television series’ The Wire and Treme. Pierce was also in this year’s Oscar nominee for Best Picture, SELMA. Pierce will also soon be releasing a personal memoir, THE WIND IN THE REEDS, an insightful and poignant portrait of family, New Orleans and the transforming power of art (RIVERHEAD BOOKS / Sept. 8th, 2015). Pierce states, “The 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina is a significant moment in the recent history of our country.  Brothers from the Bottom does what art does best: challenge, elevate and illuminate the conversation.”

The cast includes two-time Emmy Award winner Kevin Mambo, who played the title role in Fela! on Broadway, as well as Toccarra Cash, Thaddeus Daniels, Wendell Franklin andMegan Robinson.

Brothers from the Bottom, writer and director, Alexander, is a prolific award winning actor, writer, producer and director for theater and film.

With: Original Music: Edward Anderson and Darrell Lavigne (Bleu Orleans); Set Design: Felix Cochren (Broadway credits: Amen Corner, Inacent Black, Home); Assistant Set Designer: Patrice Davidson; Costume Design: Helen Simmons-Collen; Lighting Design: Joyce Liao; Sound Design: Douglas Forbes; Stage Manager: Norman Smalls

NOCCA Stage Company is excited to provide this once in a lifetime chance for NOCCA students to work directly with these incredible artists that are part of Brothers from the Bottom. Work on set building and staging, masterclass rehearsals begins in mid-May which provides the perfect big picture insight to the students in the Theatre Arts Department at NOCCA.  NOCCA is proud to be part of this incredible moment that will shape the local theatre scene for many years to come.

Tickets and Showtimes

The Billie Holiday Theatre at Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, NOCCA Stage Company and Wendell Pierce present

BROTHERS FROM THE BOTTOM

Hurricane Katrina 10th Anniversary: Commemorative Performances

Written and directed by Jackie Alexander

Starring Wendell Pierce* and featuring Kevin Mambo*, Toccarra Cash*, Thaddeus Daniels, Wendell Franklin* and Megan Robinson*

Show Times: June 5 – 28, 2015; Fridays at 8 pm | Saturdays at 3 & 8 pm | Sundays at 2 & 7pm

Lupin Hall at NOCCA, 2800 Chartres St., New Orleans, Louisiana

TICKETS: General Admission: $30.00 / Seniors and Students with ID: $25.00

Buy tickets online at www.thebillieholiday.org or call: 504.940.2800

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Steve Gleason Documentary Is Happening

by Jordan McGuire on April 27, 2015

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IMG is stepping up to finance and market a full-length feature documentary about Steve Gleason. Gleason is one of the most memorable and inspirational members of the New Orleans Saints in the storied franchise’s history. Gleason was responsible for the blocked punt during the team’s first home game (against the hated Falcons) after Hurricane Katrina. He’s also responsible for so much more.

Steve Gleason was tragically diagnosed with ALS at only thirty-four years old. The Gleason Project will be produced by Seth Gordon (Undefeated) and J. Clay Tweel (Print the Legend) will direct. Gleason’s journey has been very public so they will hopefully have a lot of existing material to work with, in addition to their own filming.

The former Who Dat is considered one of the world’s most recognizable ALS proponents. The special teams warrior played eight years with the Saints from 2000-2008. Three years after he left the team, he was diagnosed with the disease, the doctor gave him two to five years to live. Months later, Gleason found out his wife was pregnant. Steve Gleason now has over 1000 hours of footage to show his son who he truly was. This footage will be greatly used in The Gleason Project.

The film is set to be released in early 2016. Visit the Team Gleason page here.

Source: Deadline

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David-Oyelowo-Ava-DuVernayThe powerful filmmaking team behind the civil rights drama Selma will be headed to New Orleans in the near future. Director Ava DuVernay and actor David Oyelowo will be reteaming on a new drama set against the backdrop of Hurricane Katrina. The deal for the new film came together at the Sundance Film Festival. The narrative feature is described as a sweeping love story and murder mystery.

Selma was widely expected to receive Academy Awards considerations but DuVernay and Oyelowo did not receive nominations when they were announced last week. The omissions are considered two of the biggest snubs of the 2015 Oscars. Selma, which chronicles the three Selma to Montgomery, Alabama marches in 1965, currently boasts an incredibly rare Rotten Tomatoes score of 99% Fresh.

Oyelowo portrays Martin Luther King, Jr. in the film. The Katrina project will bring him back to Louisiana, where he previously shot The Butler and The Paperboy. Both of those films were directed by Lee Daniels.

Several Hurricane Katrina-related films have been in development, and a few have made their way to very limited distribution deals, but there has not yet been a commercially or critically successful film to incorporate the disaster in any major way. The closest Hollywood has come was David Fincher’s film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which used Katrina to narratively frame the film.

Because of the intense media coverage of Hurricane Katrina, and the resulting political discussion, something known as “Katrina fatigue” emerged to describe a general disaffection with the topic. That’s probably what has kept the film industry from bringing a Katrina pic to the big screen. But as time passes, audiences will hopefully be more eager to reflect on one of the greatest natural (and some say, man-made) disasters in United States history.

DuVernay and Oyelowo might be the first to do so successfully.

Source: Deadline

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‘Treme’ final season airs December 1

by Wyatt Gassen on November 11, 2013

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During a time of devastation and corruption after Hurricane Katrina viciously struck New Orleans, the Crescent City neighborhood known as Tremé represented a community that was determined to rebuild their homes, reestablish hope and regain a sense of normalcy in their everyday lives. Based on the efforts Tremé residents made to rebuild the neighborhood, HBO’s Treme offers a look into what New Orleans residents endured and overcame after the passing of the storm that rocked their city.

Created by The Wire’s David Simon and Eric Overmyer, the Peabody Award-winning series returns for its five-episode conclusion this December. Shot and set in New Orleans, the new season will include the tradition of Mardi Gras and the culture of the Crescent City. Treme viewers will get a glimpse at musicians, chefs, dancers – even the Mardi Gras Indians – and other Cajun traditions in the drama’s fourth and final season. The show will also touch on more sensitive topics like police corruption and a fragile and inefficient school system. Through the difficult time of New Orleans’ fall and reconstruction, one thing holds true: culture.

Starring Wendell Pierce, Khandi Alexander, Rob Brown, Kim Dickens, Michiel Huisman and Melissa Leo, Treme will begin airing its final episodes on Sunday, December 1.

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‘Uncle’ Lionel Batiste dies at 81

by Morgan Charlesworth

“Uncle” Lionel Batiste, who has been one of the best musicians on the New Orleans Jazz scene since the 1940s, died Sunday night after battling cancer briefly. He was diagnosed earlier this April, and was 81 when he passed away. Most people would know him by his infamous signature sunglasses, the wristwatch worn around his […]