Faubourg Treme

Feb 13, 2009

The fabric and identity of New Orleans is often revealed through the history of its neighborhoods. Now, a film documentary by two local producers tells the story of one of New Orleans's oldest and most culturally significant.

Lolis Eric Elie, a New Orleans newspaperman, takes us on a tour of the city-- his city-- in what becomes a reflection on the relevance of history folded into a love letter to that storied New Orleans neighborhood, Faubourg Treme. Arguably the oldest black neighborhood in America and the birthplace of jazz, Faubourg Treme was home to the largest community of free black people in the Deep South during slavery and a hotbed of political ferment. Here black and white, free and enslaved, and rich and poor cohabited, collaborated and clashed to create America's first Civil Rights movement and a unique American culture. Faubourg Treme : The Untold Story of Black New Orleans is a riveting tale of heartbreak, hope, resiliency and haunting historic parallels.

While the Treme district was damaged when the levees broke, this is not another Katrina documentary. Long before the flood, writer Lolis Eric Elie and filmmaker Dawn Logsdon-- two native New Orleanians, one black, one white-- began documenting the rich living culture of this historic district. Miraculously, their tapes survived the disaster unscathed. The completed film, Faubourg Treme: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans, which critics have called "devastating," "charming" and "revelatory" is a powerful testament to why New Orleans matters, and why this most un-American of American cities must be saved.

Elie and Logsdon make clear that the city's present, up through Katrina, remains steeped in its past-- one that, for New Orleans, naturally includes an emphasis on music, heightened here by Derrick Hodge's original jazz score and over a hundred years of New Orleans music. This is a film of ideas, a historical film, a personal film and a celebration of place.

More information on the documentary can be found here.