Friday, February 15, 2008

Desert Bayou DVD

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Master P Provocative Post-Katrina Documentary Out on DVD

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the mainstream media flooded the airwaves with reports about how the displaced residents of the Gulf Region were being welcomed with open arms by fellow Americans all across the country. One of those feelgood stories involved Utah, where some 600 evacuees from New Orleans were supposedly being integrated into the mostly-Mormon Salt Lake City community.
Now, we’re belatedly learning the rest of the story, and the sad truth is that this contingent of refugees were treated horribly upon their arrival. First of all, they had been herded onto a plane without being informed of their destination.
Upon landing, they were not ushered to a functioning metropolis but to Camp Williams, an abandoned National Guard base in the desert used only as an artillery range. And the mayor of the closest city, Salt Lake, hastily announced the imposition of a nightly curfew, but only on the recent arrivals, ostensibly to ensure that his new African-American neighbors would be out of his lily-white town after sundown.
This unfortunate nightmare is painstakingly recounted in Desert Bayou, a picture produced by New Orleans native Master P. The hip-hop impresario discovered the situation while searching in Utah for his parents who were among the missing Katrina victims.
He suspected that they’d been taken there without their consent or any understanding of what they were getting into. Too bad the folks he found there didn’t have kin with the money to rescue them from racist treatment reminiscent of the country’s dark days of Jim Crow segregation.
A damning documentary which exposes FEMA’s wholesale failings while depicting a nation still deep in denial and willing to look the other way despite the ongoing suffering of a long-marginalized segment of society.

Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 90 minutes
Studio: Cinema Libre

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