MacGillivray Freeman’s IMAX ® film takes audiences into the heart of Louisiana — before, during and after the unprecedented devastation of Hurricane Katrina. The director had begun shooting a documentary on the rapidly disappearing bayous -- one acre is lost every half hour ! -- that are New Orleans’ first line of defense, even before the deadly storm. Lousiana contains 48% of all US coastal wetlands.
Exploring this threatened bayou ecosystem, the movie with narration by Merryl Streep follows four musicians representing the human and cultural riches of New Orleans: rock singer-pianist Allen Toussaint; Cajun blues guitarist and wetlands activist Tab Benoit; 14 year old fiddler Amanda Shaw; and her discoverer, zydeco accordion master Chubby Carrier.
Through their eyes we see the threat to the ecosystem and of their city, and its hopes for a revitalized future. The film opens with a family of alligators at play to the tune of the Cajun classic Iko Iko, the story of New Orleans' foundation in an untamed swampland, and its gumbo of African, Native American, Cajun, Creole and Southern influences. Hub of the Mississippi, the city is the busiest port in the U.S. New Orleans became increasingly vulnerable to high winds and storm surges as the US Corps of Engineers raised levees and diverted the river, depleting the wetlands. Its wealth, cultural vitality and very future depend on their preservation.
Thanks to Barbara Awmson of QEW for bringing this to our attention. The film (see video excerpts with music on Youtube) is sponsored by the Weather Channel and the Audubon Nature Institute. Profits from the music CD will go towards Audubon wetlands conservation.