Sunday, October 25, 2009

"Film, Music, and Activism in New Orleans and Chicago" Panel Discussion

In this photo: panelists in New Orleans are in the video on the screen to the left; panelists in Chicago included (l-r) Stan West, Arvis Averette, Ashley Johnson, Robin Whatley, Ted Hardin, and George Bailey.

This Fourth Annual Chicago Calling Arts Festival event featured a panel discussion about music, film, and activism in Chicago and New Orleans; the screening of a film trailer; and a musical performance. It happened on Sunday, October 11, 2009 at the Columbia College Concert Hall and Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center.

“Film, Music, and Activism in New Orleans and Chicago” Panel Discussion (3 p.m.)
It has been more than four years since Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast region. Many amazing things have happened in New Orleans and elsewhere in the Gulf Coast region since then, but challenges still face us in terms of rebuilding. This panel discussion involved people in two locations who discussed music, film and activism in New Orleans and Chicago. The panelists in New Orleans included Rene Broussard, Luther Gray, Jonathan Freilich, and Jordan Flaherty. The panelists in Chicago included Stan West, Robin Whatley, George Bailey, Ashley Johnson, Arvis Averette, and Ted Hardin. Panelists at Zeitgeist and Columbia College were connected over the internet, using Skype.

Screening of trailer for Veins in the Gulf (2010 feature documentary directed by Ted Hardin)
Louisiana’s coast is the most threatened in the world -- hurricanes, rising tides, sinking land. 2000 square miles of fertile soil, productive wetlands, and an enormous oil and gas infrastructure -- gone. In 50 years, Louisiana may not extend beyond New Orleans. Who will save Louisiana? The Army Corps of Engineers? Environmentalists? Medicine Men? Veins in the Gulf interviews them all, looking for the answers. The problem is agreeing on the solution.

Telematic Performance with Musicians in New Orleans and Chicago (4:30 p.m.)
Performers include Luther Gray (percussion), Jonathan Freilich (guitar), George Bailey (guitar), Jayve Montgomery (reeds and percussion), and Dan Godston (trumpet).

This event was organized in collaboration with Critical Encounters: Fact & Faith, and it is sponsored by the New Millennium Studies program at Columbia College Chicago.

You can listen to and download an audio recording of this panel discussion by clicking on these links: 1st segment, 2nd segment, 3rd segment, 4th segment, 5th segment, 6th segment, and 7th segment.

Rene Broussard has taught in the Orleans Parish School system for over 8 years. In 1986 he received an artist fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts to teach with Arts Connection. He then went on to teach Creative Dramatics in the ADEPT after-school program from 1987 – 1990. Broussard returned to teaching in 2002 – 2005 when he taught video production and editing in the A.R.M.S. after-school program.
From 1986 to 1990, Rene Broussard produced and directed several extremely successful plays in New Orleans through Zeitgeist including Blood On The Cat’s Neck by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Shakespeare the Sadist by Wolfgang Bauer, Rocking Back and Forth by Gunter Grass, Let’s Eat Hair by Karl Lazlo and an environmental theatre piece/musical about the Manson Family entitled Commune. The emphasis of the organization gradually changed to that of the city of New Orleans' leading exhibitor of alternative cinema with series and originally curated programs of experimental and underground films being presented in various locations.

Jordan Flaherty is a writer and community organizer based in New Orleans. He was the first journalist with a national audience to write about the Jena Six case, and played an important role in bringing the story to worldwide attention. His post-Katrina writing in ColorLines Magazine shared a journalism award from New America Media for best Katrina-related coverage in the Ethnic press, and millions around the world have seen the television news segments he’s produced for Al-Jazeera, TeleSur, PressTV and Democracy Now.
Jordan is an editor of Left Turn Magazine and has written about politics and culture for the Village Voice, New York Press, Huffington Post, Louisiana Weekly, and in several anthologies, including the South End Press books Live From Palestine and What Lies Beneath: Katrina, Race and the State of the Nation, the University of Georgia Press book What is a City, and the AK Press book Red State Rebels. He has appeared as a guest on a wide range of television and radio shows, including CNN Morning, Anderson Cooper 360, CNN Headline News, Grit TV, and both local and nationally-syndicated shows on National Public Radio. He has been a regular correspondent or frequent guest on Democracy Now, Radio Nation on Air America, News and Notes, and Keep Hope Alive With Reverend Jesse Jackson. He is also a staffer with the Louisiana Justice Institute, a civil rights legal advocacy organization that has been on the front lines of the struggle for a just rebuilding of the Gulf Coast.

Jonathan Freilich has been an active part of the New Orleans music scene since his arrival in 1989. Almost immediately, he found himself playing backup to notable locals such as Kermit Ruffins, Michael Ward and The Reward, and Michael Ray and the Kosmik Krewe. Additionally, in 1992 he co-founded the New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars(NOKAS), a pioneering klezmer ensemble that infused that music with the vibrancy and energy of the funk, jazz and brass music of New Orleans.
Although NOKAS was playing some of his compositions, by 1993 he found himself seeking outlets for his compositions in other styles and forms. After playing with a plethora combos and experimenting with many great local musicians he formed Naked On The Floor and eventually the Naked Orchestra.
Throughout this time he has continued to work as a sideman and frontman for a whirlwind of new orleans music projects. He also has an extensive discography. He has music featured in some films and TV shows (Andy Richter conquers the Universe, The Dukes of Hazzard(Warner Home Video).
Currently he is working on a comic-satirical opera about a couple of New Orleans lawyers and their movements through New Orleans class detritus after Hurricane Katrina. Initial performances are expected in Nov. 2009.
He is the subject of the one hour radio documentary Jonathan Freilich’s Freedom Double-O Naked Klezmer Jazz Latin Boogaloo: The Radio Documentary by award winning documentarian, David Kunian. He was the 2008 Governors’ Music Fellowship Award recipient.

After receiving HIS M.A. from Florida State University in German Film Studies and an M.F.A. from the Ohio State University in Film and Video, Ted Hardin worked with a variety of artists at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Ohio and the Banff Centre for the Arts in Canada as director of photography, director, editor, lighting director, and assistant director. He has collaborated with the alternative media collective Paper Tiger Television in New York, and researched and shot the documentary, Dark Near-Death Experiences for German Television. His own experimental narratives and movement-based films have shown at festivals and galleries throughout the U.S. and Europe. For the last decade, he has been collaborating with his partner Elizabeth Coffman on experimental shorts and documentaries. Their past efforts include the feature documentary about Bosnia—One More Mile: a Dialogue on Nation-Building and the short video and installation Long Distance. Currently Elizabeth and Ted have been working on another short, Digital Afrika, and a feature documentary about wetland loss in Louisiana, Veins in the Gulf. In his eleventh year at Columbia College Chicago, he is an Associate Professor in the Film and Video Department.

Stan West taught a "Post-Katrina curriculum" several semesters with Columbia's "Saturday Scholars/Art Up," a college-readiness program that meets weekly on campus. In Spring of 2009, his students sent students at New Orleans Charter School for Math and Science, Frederick Douglass High School and Brother Martin High School hand-made books prepared with donations by Columbia's Center for Book and Paper Arts. West also traveled with dozens of Chicago Public High School students to New Orleans in '07 to shoot "Life After Katrina," a documentary directed by Kevin Caldwell that West co-produced. It showcased volunteerism among Chicago's college and high school youth in the 6th, 7th, 9th Wards and Violet, St. Bernard Parish of New Orleans. Spike Lee sent a two-minute promo praising this effort that also resulted in "Post-Katrina Stories," a 15-minute short on civic engagement and service learning West co-produced with Saturday Scholars that features musicians Luther Gray and Amman West playing African drums in Fauberg Treme's historic Congo Square. He presented this film and a paper in Baton Rouge at the Association of African-American Scholars Conference in 2009, in New Orleans at the Crossroads Conference at Xavier University in 2008 with Gray, and at the Oak Park International Film Festival, where that same year, West moderated a panel that included Ashley Johnson, Jordan West, and other teens connected with Saturday Scholars. Additionally, West taught at New Orleans Charter School of Math and Science in a one-day seminar on arts integration in the physical and cultural geography of New Orleans. West and his students insist the physical and cultural geography of the Gulf must be restored immediately at whatever costs in America's most-treasured historical community. In 2008, West advised Columbia's student group "Reach Out" and its film crew during a week-long shoot in the Gulf that included student Krissy Anderson's crowd-pleasing poetry performance during the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival at the French Quarter's "Gold Mine"club. He's produced several radio programs for WNUA 95.5 FM on the same subject, including one featuring HBP Def Poet Shelton "Shakespear" Alexander. Gray and several Columbia faculty and a high school students play instruments or do background vocals on Shakespear's newest hit CD, "I Feel Like Dying." Shakespear lectured to West's students in New Orleans and Chicago. "Post Katrina Stories" is dedicated to his late mother, Lorraine "Mama Shake" Alexander, who died of post-Katrina stress. In sum, West, who holds an MFA from University of New Orleans, argues that his biggest accomplishment was Katrina Weekend "successfully rescueing the godmother" of his teen twins, Mrs. Lucinda Reid, from her Lower 9th Ward home during Katrina Weekend that then was located at 1704 Deslonde. It's now the headquarters for the Black-led Common Ground relief organization.

Robin Whatley is an Assistant Professor in the Science and Mathematics Department at Columbia College Chicago, and a Research Associate in the Geology Department at The Field Museum. After receiving a B.F.A. in Sculpture from the Kansas City Art Institute, she worked at The Field Museum as an exhibit preparator and designer on the Animal Kingdom exhibits. Robin’s interest in paleontology and interactions with scientists at the Field Museum led her to pursue a Ph.D. in the Geological Sciences Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara. As a Smithsonian Institution Postdoctoral Research Fellow she began her current research program on the emergence and diversification of the earliest mammals. Robin has recently begun a field research program in the Petrified National Park in Arizona where she studies small terrestrial animal communities living during the beginning of the age of the dinosaurs. She has taught the Natural Disasters course each semester since coming to Columbia, and she chaperoned Columbia’s ReachOut Student Volunteers on a trip to New Orleans in 2008.

in this photo: Stan West, Arvis Averette, and Ashley Johnson

in this photo: Robin Whatley and Ted Hardin

in this photo: Ashley Johnson and Robin Whatley

More photos of this event can be viewed by clicking here.

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