“Faubourg Tremé: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans” Comes to Madison in October
I’ve been waiting a while to see this film. It will play on Friday, October 1, at 6:00 p.m., at the South Madison Branch of the Madison Public Library, 2222 South Park Street, Madison, WI. For further details, call 608-266-6395.
Faubourg Tremé: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans is a riveting tale of hope, heartbreak and resiliency set in New Orleans’ most fascinating neighborhood. Shot largely before Hurricane Katrina and edited afterward, the film is both celebratory and elegiac in tone.
Faubourg Tremé is arguably the oldest black neighborhood in America, the birthplace of the Civil Rights movement in the South and the home of jazz. While the Tremé district was damaged when the levees broke, this is not another Katrina documentary. Every frame is a tribute to what African American communities have contributed even under the most hostile of conditions. It is a film of such effortless intimacy, subtle glances and authentic details that only two native New Orleanians could have made it.
Our guide through the neighborhood is New Orleans’ Times Picayune columnist Lolis Eric Elie who bought a historic house in Tremé in the 1990’s when the area was struggling to recover from the crack epidemic. Rather than flee the blighted inner city, Elie begins renovating his dilapidated home and in the process becomes obsessed with the area’s mysterious and neglected past. The film follows the progress of his renovation, which eventually emerges as a poignant metaphor for post-Katrina reconstruction of New Orleans.
Irving Trevigne, Elie’s seventy-five year old Creole carpenter, is the heart and soul of the neighborhood and a born storyteller. Descended from over two hundred years of skilled craftsmen, he beguiles Elie with the forgotten stories behind Tremé’s old buildings. Other neighborhood chroniclers like Louisiana Poet Laureate Brenda Marie Osbey, musician Glen David Andrews and renowned historians John Hope Franklin and Eric Foner help bring alive a compelling and complex historical experience that gracefully combines pre and post hurricane footage with a wealth of never-before-seen archival imagery.
Discussion after the film will be led by Dr. Richard Davis, an international performing musician and Professor of Bass at the UW Madison, as well as an activist for social justice and the healing of racism.
While Friday isn’t exactly one of the great weeknights in which to view a library event, I think it’s worth it to see more of what the fuss is about New Orleans–and its history.