As the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaches on August 29th, 2010, communities all over the world are struggling to recover from disaster, whether economic, natural or man-made. LAND OF OPPORTUNITY, a groundbreaking multi-platform documentary, captures the early years of post-catastrophe New Orleans through the eyes of a diverse group of people. From the urban planner to the immigrant worker to the public housing resident, our protagonists hail from across the spectrum of the city's population. Through their eyes, we experience the ups and downs of an unprecedented urban reconstruction process. Democratic processes fail them, economic crises pull the rug out from under best-intentioned plans, and migration and displacement prove to be a strange bargain. The people in the film are powerful, marginalized, black, white, latino, men, women, opinionated, humble, angry, sad, wise, hilarious, flawed, and often contradictory. Contained in their stories is our story, the story of ordinary people in cities and towns across the world, grappling with extraordinary circumstances much larger than themselves.
It's been over four years since I left my comfy life as a filmmaker and teacher in Los Angeles and relocated to New Orleans to make LAND OF OPPORTUNITY. Since then, I've come to exemplify the cautionary tale of the debt-ridden, half-crazed documentary filmmaker singularly obsessed with a project that has taken years of my life. Yet I don't regret a single moment. I'm held captive by the resilient magic of this city and its residents, who refused to go quietly even when many of them were given one-way tickets out of town. For New Orleanians, this city not only represents home in the deepest sense of the word, but is also a bulwark against our increasingly gentrified, homogenized, and anesthetized (sub)urban landscapes. I am more convinced than ever that the stories that come from this unique yet quintessential American city hold very important lessons for us all if we choose to listen and engage.
While filming LAND OF OPPORTUNITY, my intrepid cinematographer and I have had some unforgettable and life-changing experiences. We've re-occupied shuttered public housing developments with displaced residents facing fully-armed SWAT teams, posed as undocumented immigrant workers rebuilding the Superdome, and accompanied one of our main protagonists in a private meeting with then-presidential candidate Barack Obama. In the past four years, we have amassed a treasure trove of exclusive footage that has helped to tell the story of post-catastrophe New Orleans to members of Congress and UN officials. Our footage has also been featured in art exhibits and used as part of a NOVAC workforce media training workshop.
A feature-length version of the project will be broadcast in Europe for the 5th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, an important milestone when the world will once again turn its eyes towards New Orleans. However, Land of Opportunity is much more than just a movie designed to passively entertain. We are developing a groundbreaking distribution strategy called SUMMER OF THE CITY, which will use shorter, web-based pieces from Land of Opportunity to inspire civic engagement and "active viewership" in sister cities across the country.
USE OF FUNDS:
In order to bring these ambitious plans to fruition, we need your (and your sweetie's and your cousin's and your co-worker's) help. We need to raise a minimum of $25,000 to help cover finishing costs (color correction, sound mix and graphics) to deliver the film to our European broadcaster in mid-May. We also need funding to further develop our web-based content for the summer. Please help us by pledging your support to LAND OF OPPORTUNITY! Thanks to our fiscal sponsor, Video Veracity, your donation is TAX DEDUCTIBLE.
Renowned artists and writers have provided unique rewards that reflect the spirit and rich culture of New Orleans. Greater detail about the awards and the artists will be provided in our regular updates. Please help spread the word by joining our group on Facebook, following us on Twitter, sending emails, and talking to people the old-fashioned way about this timely and important project.
Many thanks, in advance, for your continued support.
Luisa Dantas and the Land of Opportunity team
LAND OF OPPORTUNITY
- (44 days)