If your television set is jonesing for New Orleans video in anticipation of ‘Treme’ Season 2, you have plenty of high-quality options to tide you over.
For more about the culture of New Orleans, its music in particular:
- Les Blank’s ‘Always for Pleasure’ captures both the sights and the feeling of Carnival.
- Royce Osborne’s ‘All on a Mardi Gras Day’ focuses on the various traditions of black Carnival.
- Rebecca Snedeker’s ‘By Invitatin Only’ focuses on the behind-the-parade social scene of white debutantes.
- Lisa Katzman’s portrait of the late great Mardi Gras Indian chief, ‘Tootie Montana,’ was one of the inspirations for the character of ‘Treme’s’ Albert Lambreaux.
The failure of the federal levees in the wake of Hurricane Katrina was the catalyst for several important films:
- Years before the floodwaters, Dawn Logsdon approached me to work on a documentary about my neighborhood, ‘Faubourg Treme.’ What started out to be a look at New Orleans culture as exemplified in this one small place grew into a film about the civil rights movement of the 1800s and how the themes of that movement echoed in the work of Martin Luther King and the post-Katrina re-building of New Orleans.
- Spike Lee’s ‘When the Levees Broke’ was especially important to David Simon as he conceived ‘Treme.’ Phyllis Montana-Leblanc, the fiery heroine of that film, plays Desiree, the common-law wife of our ne’r-do-very-well trombone player Antoine Batiste (Wendell Pierce).
- ‘Trouble the Water’ is an incredibly moving insider’s account of what it was like to stay in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. Kimberly Rivers Roberts was an aspiring rapper, not a filmmaker. But in the final hours before Hurricane Katrina made landfall, she seemed to have an anthropologist’s eye as she captured her neighborhood’s final days of normalcy.
- In her documentary ‘The Old Man and the Storm,’ June Cross humanizes the post-Katrina landscape with a moving portrait of Herbert Gettridge, an 82-year-old Lower 9th Ward resident who almost single-handedly rebuilt his home.
- Harry Shearer’s film ‘The Big Uneasy’ wasn’t released until after Season 1 of ‘Treme.’ But it is the only film to explain why New Orleans flooded. I’ll give you a hint, Hurricane Katrina might have been the proximate cause, but there were other factors far more troubling because of what they say about our nation’s inattention to its infrastructure.