Fiche Film
LONG Métrage | 2008
Faubourg Tremé : The untold story of Black New Orleans
Pays concerné : États-Unis
Durée : 68 minutes
Genre : politique
Type : documentaire
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Le faubourg Tremé, qui s’étendait autour de Congo square, à La Nouvelle Orléans, avait été acheté en 1810 au Sieur Paul Claude Joseph Tremé pour les besoins d’une ville en pleine expansion. Ce faubourg concentrait la plus grande partie de la population noire libre. Cette communauté créole, essentiellement francophone et catholique, constituait avec les esclaves l’essentiel de la foule qui jetait son dévolu sur la Place du Congo tous les dimanches, le matin pour les besoins du marché et l’après-midi pour se consacrer aux fameuses danses africaines. Nous sommes donc au cœur de la plus vieille communauté afro-américaine libre, berceau du jazz et de la lutte pour les droits civiques. Ce film retrace l’histoire de cette communauté qui a survécu aux agressions racistes et qui se bat encore, cette fois-ci, contre les conséquences d’un phénomène naturel : le fameux ouragan Katrina, qui a dispersé la population noire de La Nouvelle Orléans aux quatre coins des Etats-Unis.

USA, 2007
Langue :, anglais,
1h08 minutes


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 the storied New Orleans neighborhood, Faubourg Tremé. Arguably the oldest black neighborhood in America and the birthplace of jazz, Faubourg Tremé 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, rich and poor cohabitated, collaborated, and clashed to create America’s first Civil Rights movement and a unique American culture. Faubourg Tremé: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans is a riveting tale of heartbreak, hope, resiliency and haunting historic parallels.

While the Tremé district was damaged when the levees broke, this is not another Katrina documentary. Long before the flood, two native New Orleanians-one black, one white-writer Lolis Eric Elie and filmmaker Dawn Logsdon, began documenting the rich living culture of this historic district. Miraculously, their tapes survived the disaster unscathed. The completed film, Faubourg Tremé: 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 director Dawn Logsdon make clear 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.

Directed by Dawn Logsdon
Co-Directed & Written by Lolis Eric Elie
Produced by Lucie Faulknor, Dawn Logsdon, & Lolis Eric Elie
Edited by Dawn Logsdon, Sam Green & Aljernon Tunsil
Directors of Photography: Diego Velasco, Keith Smith & Bobby Shepard
Executive Producers: Stanley Nelson & Wynton Marsalis
Original Score by Derrick Hodge

Directors’ Statement

We are New Orleans filmmakers, one black and one white. With the failure of the federal levees after Hurricane Katrina, our entire city was transformed overnight into the symbol of all that has gone wrong in America, in particular its deepening racial and economic divide. Seared into the nation’s consciousness are images of desperately poor black people trapped on rooftops and denied the most basic protection of American citizenship. Those images have come to represent black New Orleans.

Our goal in making this film was to tell the story behind those images. We chose to focus on one New Orleans neighborhood, Faubourg Tremé, a historic community that like much of the old city is predominantly African American, poor, and steeped in distinctly un-American traditions. For us Faubourg Tremé is quintessential New Orleans. We wanted to capture the spirit of this place that has persevered in the face of great hostility for centuries and created a culture and history that enriched America and the world.

These days, « character driven » documentaries are all the rage. In editing this film, however, we chose not to structure our story around the personal dramas of our wonderful individual characters but to highlight the larger drama of community. We hope New Orleans itself becomes the character you laugh and cry with, and come to love.

Our film focuses on a forgotten 19th century Civil Rights Movement in New Orleans and the music and writing that was born of those dreams. We ourselves are both products of a later Civil Rights Movement. Our parents were Civil Rights activists. We were each sent to integrate New Orleans schools – Lolis to an elite all-white private school, Dawn to an inner city public school that had been abandoned by white parents after desegregation. Our childhood memories are of picket lines, voter registration drives and dreams of a new New Orleans.

Today, there’s another new New Orleans in the planning and a new generation of young Americans trekking South to help in the rebuilding. Many of the battles of the past are being fought again. In the course of making this film, the Tremé neighborhood was transformed from one of the most rooted communities in America to among the most uprooted. Before the hurricane, one of the things old people loved to tell us over and over was « You can’t possibly know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been. » Back then, this expression sounded to us like a simplistic cliché. After the flood, it became our mantra too. The history of New Orleans is littered with tragic paths not taken. But it’s also rich with tales of brave uprisings, interracial collaboration, endurance and creativity. Our hope is that this film can help heal, educate and inspire at this critical moment in New Orleans’ future. »

Dawn Logsdon and Lolis Eric Elie

Coming in 2010: a HBO series based on the Tremé neighborhood
starring New Orleanian, Wendell Pierce (from The Wire)!

Executive Producers: Wynton Marsalis, Stanley Nelson
Director/Editor: Dawn Logsdon
Co-Director/Writer: Lolis Eric Elie
Producer: Lucie Faulknor
Composer: Derrick Hodge
Directors of Photography:Keith Smith, Diego Velasco
Post-Production Sound: Larry Blake
Research Director: Caryn Cossé Bell

Faubourg Tremé: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans is a co-production of Serendipity Films, LLC, Louisiana Public Broadcasting (LPB), WYES-TV/New Orleans, and the Independent Television Service (ITVS)-with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).
Produced in association with the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC).

This program was produced by Serendipity Films, LLC which is solely responsible for its content.
© 2008 Serendipity Films, LLC
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