The BACKGROUND: Louisiana’s coastal marshland is eroding at the equivalent of one football field every 30 minutes, every hour of every day, every week and every month. Only a half-mile of Isle de Jean Charles is left -- and it's slowly sinking into the Gulf of Mexico. The island has been a refuge for Native Americans escaping the persecutions of the mainland since the 1840s. On the isle they lived bountifully with vegetable gardens and cattle, fishing and shrimping. The animals and gardens are now gone, the fish and shrimp contaminated. In the old days, barrier islands protected the twenty four square mile isle from hurricane damage. But since oil and gas companies began carving canals in the 1930s, saltwater has soaked into the marshlands, attacking and eroding everything in its path. With its barrier islands gone, Isle Jean Charles is left unprotected to the fury of hurricanes. Five hurricanes in the last decade alone.
The MAN, his LAND, the STORY: Off the coast of Southern Louisiana lives a man of the sea. Edison Dardar was born on a fisherman’s boat near Isle de Jean Charles, where he has lived his entire 74 years. Each morning, a mixture of howling winds and salty air wakes him up. Half asleep, he climbs on his much-too-small bicycle and starts his journey. As he pedals down the island, visions of lush, merrier days follow him along skeletons of oak and cypress trees, weathered toys and sofas, exposed bathrooms and deserted driveways that belonged to members of his tribe that are now gone. He follows the flooded Island Road that links his community to the mainland, passing the eroding and expanding canals of the oil and gas industry, into the disappearing marsh, where he climbs off the bike and gracefully casts his net into the water. This is the life he cherishes and he is prepared to shoot you if you get in the way.
The FILM: We were moved by Edison's unflinching passion for his island home. Despite the terror each hurricane brings to his little bit of land, he still remains. Even if he has to rebuild his house over and over again, it's his home. His grandpa died here, his daddy died here and so will he. "What will I do in the city? Stare at the highway?" asks Edison, making me question the value of my own urban existence amongst the multitude of traffic lights and cement walls in New York City.
How YOU fit in all this: Your donation will help us complete the film. We have the story, the contacts and some of the filming in place, we just don't have the money to finalize this shoot. We turn to you for help. Any amount that you're willing to give will put us one step closer to our goal. Your money will go towards travel, car rental, hiring a second editor, post-production (sound mixing, color correction, festival submissions, DVD printing) as well as a donation to the Isle de Jean Charles Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaws for future hurricane relief. We have been collaborating with hurricane chasers, tribal chiefs, musicians, sound engineers, animation artists, environmental lawyers, cartographers, historians, students and activists to produce a film that will do justice to Edison's story. We believe this tribe has been wronged for centuries. Through a combination of your assistance and the facilities we have available to us, we're confident we can bring awareness to the issue of coastal erosion due to industry negligence. We hope the tribe will get Federal recognition and a greater chance to be included in the Morganza-to-the-Gulf Hurricane Protection Project. The island was excluded because it's too costly to include within the levee walls.
BLOGGING: Throughout production, we’ll maintain a project blog about the film’s progress and post photos and bonus videos from on the ground in Louisiana. The film is already getting into festivals as a work in progress and will be released in 2012 (provided the world doesn’t end).
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Thank you for your support.
Carmen and Evan
- (30 days)