Southern Glossary

Spotlight: New Orleans Documentaries

Southern Glossary
Spotlight: New Orleans Documentaries

The New Orleans Film Festival begins October 17th, and all this week we're highlighting a few films by genre out of the multitude of offerings. Today, a full suite of documentaries focused on individuals and institutions important to New Orleans.

Big Charity: The Death of America's Oldest Hospital

Charity Hospital, the iconic institution that was the birthplace of so many New Orleanians and often the last resort for care, has been closed since its ground floors were inundated with water in the flooding of Hurricane Katrina. A long, complicated battle has been fought over what to do with the city-owned building since then, but tied up in the conflict are memories of the public hospital's higher mission as exemplified by its staff, a mission that hasn't been revived since. This film tells the story of the hospital from its beginnings in the early 1700s, and, through interviews with staff, notable citizens, and government leaders, explores the complicated, tragic story of its closing.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014, 6:30 p.m. - Joy Theater

Wednesday, October 22, 2014, 6:30 p.m. - Joy Theater

The Big Beat

The talents of Fats Domino & Dave Bartholomew burst out of the neighborhoods of New Orleans to change America's landscape forever. While recordings and television footage abound, Joe Lauro, a vintage collector and archivist of musical performance footage, uncovered a film recording of a live performance of the two musicians and their band and decided it was time to create a feature documentary about Fats and his contribution to rock and roll. The discovered concert footage is included in its entirety, allowing viewers to see an extended evidence of the energetic performers.

Thursday, October 23, 2014, 7:00 p.m. & 10: p.m - Carver Theater, 2101 Orleans Ave

If Those Bricks Could Talk

Included alongside other short documentary films about Louisiana, If Those Bricks Could Talk takes a look at the history and life of the Lafitte Public Housing projects, one of the earliest "modern" projects built in the city. Former residents (including musicians like James Andrews and artist Davenport) share their memories of the projects that have since been torn down and controversially replaced by mixed-income units. This film is a companion piece to an upcoming book from UNO Press.

Saturday, October 18, 2014, 3:30 p.m. - Contemporary Arts Center

We Won't Bow Down

We Won't Bow Down is filmmaker Christopher Bower's attempt to look beyond the well-known Mardi Gras Indians whose personas are synonymous with the long tradition and compile an oral history from the "rank-and-file" members of the different tribes. These are people born or attracted to the Indian culture who work all year long on sewing their suits and embodying the spirit of the tradition. Through interviews and observance, Bowers reveals the structure and practice of "masking Indian" in contemporary New Orleans.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014, 6:15 p.m. - Joy Theater

Thursday, October 23, 2014, 1:30 p.m. - Prytania Theatre

When the Bell Rings

This personal documentary follows 41-year-old Dino Wells, who fought as an amateur boxer in the 90s trying to turn his life around. He leaves Los Angeles and comes to New Orleans to be closer to the children he's had limited interaction with and to get back into fighting shape. The film follows Wells as he trains at the Crescent City Boxing Gym and rebuilds relationships.

Sunday, October 19, 2014, 4:30 p.m. - Prytania Theatre

Wednesday, October 22, 2014, 9:30 p.m. - Theatres at Canal Place

Buy tickets and see full listing info, including information about filmmakers in attendance at these films, at the New Orleans Film Society website.