In 2000, New Orleans Times-Picayune columnist Lolis Eric Elie linked arms with director Dawn Logsdon to document the rich cultural legacy of Faubourg Tremé, one of the oldest Black neighborhoods in the U.S. While America was focused on slavery, Black residents of this Crescent City neighborhood owned property and thriving businesses.
The film, shot largely before Hurricane Katrina and edited afterward (the tapes survived the storm), captures the pulse of the city that gave birth to jazz, second-line dancing and Creole cuisine. Faubourg Tremé is available on DVD and will air on PBS early next year. —Nazenet Habtezghi
Trouble the Water celebrates the resiliency of the human spirit
Nearly two weeks after Hurricane Katrina hit the Big Easy, New Orleans natives Scott and Kimberly Roberts literally walked into the frame of Tia Lessin and Carl Deal's camera. The filmmakers were interviewing survivors, and after hearing how the Robertses braved the currents to rescue neighbors, they chose to narrow their focus on the couple.
The film secured a distribution deal with Zeitgeist Films, opening in New York and Los Angeles a week before the third anniversary of Katrina, with plans for a nationwide rollout this month. —Miki Turner
In the new HBO documentary The Black List, Vol. 1, influential African-Americans share their thoughts on the struggles, triumphs and joys of life in the United States
Want to know how Toni Morrison, Sean Combs, Chris Rock and 22 other celebrities, athletes and activists really feel about their success and status? Check out HBO's The Black List, Vol. 1, by National Public Radio scribe Elvis Mitchell and photographer Timothy Greenfield-Sanders.
It's a behind-the-curtain peek at what it's like to be Black and fabulous in America, with candor rarely heard in mixed company. The movie, which earned raves at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, premieres August 25. —Tomika L. Anderson
For more on these films, check out the September 2008 issue of ESSENCE now on sale.