Faubourg Treme: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans
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FOR HOME USE ONLY Faubourg Tremé: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans is a riveting tale of hope, Heart break and resiliency set in New Orleans' most fascinating neighborhood. Shot largely before Hurricane Katrina and edited afterwards, 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. Long ago during slavery, Faubourg Tremé was home to the largest community of free black people in the Deep South and a hotbed of political ferment. Here black and white, free and enslaved, rich and poor cohabitated, collaborated, and clashed to create much of what defines New Orleans culture up to the present day. Founded as a suburb (or faubourg in French) of the original colonial city, the neighborhood developed during French rule and many families like the Trevignes kept speaking French as their first language until the late 1960's. The film brims with unknown historical nuggets: Who knew that in the early 1800's, while most African Americans were toiling on plantations, free black people in Tremé were publishing poetry and conducting symphonies? Who knew that long before Rosa Parks, Tremé leaders organized sitins and protests that successfully desegregated the city's streetcars and schools? Who knew that jazz, the area's greatest gift to America, was born from the embers of this first American Civil Rights movement. This film is imaginative, revealing, and disturbing. The images are unforgettable, reminding us of who we are and who we have been. Today many Tremé residents are unable to return home and the neighborhood is once again fighting many of the same civil rights battles first launched here a hundred and fifty years ago. Faubourg Tremé: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans celebrates the resiliency of this community and how they managed to carve out a unique and expressive culture and history that would enrich America and the world.
Flat out brilliant...This is a great piece of storytelling, filmmaking and testifying. It is also arguably the most poignant film ever made about New Orleans...Perhaps Faubourg Treme is the first of new masterpieces to emerge from this cauldron of suffering. It has certainly raised the bar extremely high. It is richer and far more nuanced than Spike Lee s When the Levees Broke and much more accurate than the post-Katrina documentaries produced by many of the national and international news organizations, despite their well-meaning intentions. --The New Orleans Tribune
Faubourg Treme is a celebration of the venerable African-American history of New Orleans...passion for the subject infuses the film...remarkable footage and charming interviews --Variety
Documentaries about post-Katrina New Orleans have not been in short supply. But one film stands out for its sensitivity to the city's cultural character, before and after the storm; Faubourg Treme: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans draws a poignant portrait of what may be the oldest black neighborhood in America...New Orleans Times-Picayune writer Lolis Eric Elie gently guides viewers through the neighborhood's glorious past and inglorious suffering after Katrina, illuminating customs that distinguish New Orleans from every city on earth. --Howard Reich, Jazz Critic, Chicago Tribune
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This well researched documentary actually covers much of the same ground as another documentary by PBS simply called New Orleans. Whereas the PBS documentary deals with the whole city, this one deals basically with the area known as Tremé, although there is considerable overlap. Faubourg Tremé, however, is a much more intimate look at the neighbourhood, as seen by a selected number of its present and erstwhile inhabitants. It takes you through its troubled and colourful history with a very personal touch, especially when it comes to describing the tragedy of Katrina.
For anyone interested in this particular part of town in this particular part of the world, which has no doubt been awakened by that stellar TV series, Tremé, it's all here if you want to know more about what are the essential ingredients that go to make up this diverse cultural, culinary and musical world.
I've only been to New Orleans once, but I'm too excited about going back. And this time I'm making sure I get over to the Treme.