Evan Abramson and Carmen Elsa Lopez, two talented independent filmmakers, received Center support for their documentary of a fishing and trapping village of Biloxi-Chitimacha and Choctaw Indians of mixed French ancestry, presently teetering on the edge of erasure: Isle de Jean Charles. Their community has inhabited this plug of land since the 1830s. Today only 24 of 350 families remain. On the verge of disappearing into the Gulf, the remnant is bitterly divided between those favoring a retreat to higher ground, and those determined to go down with the marsh grass. (Incidentally, LA has probably lost the equivalent of the State of Delaware since 1930; and every hour we lose the equivalent of a football field of marshland.)
Michael Cohen is examining the role played by southern Jewish merchants in constructing the post-emancipation cotton and sugar economy, when access to credit, and not just land and slaves, became the fulcrum of power. Millions of new sharecropping consumers came on stream with the end of slavery and the breakup of the centralized plantation into tenant plantations.
Nghana Lewis’s project explores how Hip-Hop, the vernacular musical brand of youth, black and white, but particularly black, can be harnessed to promote awareness of the HIV/AIDS crisis that has enveloped black women in our inner. She also aims to provide those at-risk young women a vocabulary for understanding and fighting back.
Marc Perry’s research project explores the Yin and yang of race through the frame of post-Katrina New Orleans, where racialized fear dances cheek-to-cheek with racialized desire, often to the backbeat of competing visions of how the city should be rebuilt. Perry suggests you’ll miss much of the underlying music if you ignore performative efforts by African American Hip-Hop artists to reconstitute New Orleans on their terms, as opposed to those of urban planners.
Beverly Trask’s received Monroe support for two things: for documenting through film the transformational journey of music and dance as they wended their way to New Orleans from West Africa and the Caribbean; and for creating a manual on how to infuse arts instruction into the curriculum of k-12 schools. Much of the documentary material was derived from the 15th Aannual New Orleans Dance Festival.
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