Hurricane Katrina’s Long Shadow, A Documentary

On the 15th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and after 15 years of hard work and commitment, I'm so close to completing "The Village That Once Was".  Can you donate to help finish the film?

"The Village That Once Was"
is a documentary about two residents from the Lower Ninth Ward who embark on a 15 year journey to return home after Hurricane Katrina. In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic and the explosion of Black Lives Matter protests worldwide, the botched recovery in the Lower Ninth Ward, a predominantly Black neighborhood in New Orleans, is more relevant than ever. 

I funded this project entirely out of pocket so far. Your donations will get it to the finish line for a 2021 film festival run, in hopes that it can be a teaching tool for recoveries worldwide. Plus you will be helping an emerging female filmmaker cross the hardest industry hurdle - funding!

Funds Will Be Used For:
Archival Footage Licensing
Sound Mix and Design
Legal and Insurance Fees
Film Festival Submissions

5 percent of donations will benefit, an organization that helps Lower Ninth Ward residents return home.  The organization also participated in the film.

Why Me? Why Now? 
"The Village That Once Was" began when I watched the harrowing news coverage of Hurricane Katrina from afar in Los Angeles. Soon after, I spent the Christmas holiday of 2005 in New Orleans, helping a relative fix up her storm ravaged home. One day we veered off the road and drove around the Lower Ninth Ward: the devastation was unlike anything I had ever seen.

A stubborn and protective love for New Orleans was born, and it brought me back to the city in 2008. During a city wide art festival called Prospect One, I met a charismatic community activist named Ward “Mack” McClendon at his community center in the Lower Ninth Ward. Mack took me on a driving tour  that day, and despite the fact that the storm had happened over 3 years ago, his neighborhood looked like Katrina had just hit. He told me about a program he was starting to bring back his neighbors, called “Where’s Your Neighbor”, and about his pilot case, a spunky seamstress named Letitia Youngblood. Mack asked me to film her joyful return. I jumped at the chance and returned shortly thereafter with a small crew, but Letitia’s return would not be as easy as Mack had hoped. Dashed hopes would become one of the main themes of the film.

Though they both faced seemingly insurmountable—and often institutional obstacles—to return home, neither Letitia nor Mack would give up. I came back periodically to check in on their progress. The film charts their decades-long journey, using formats of the time, from DV home video footage to rich HD, and highlights changing attitudes about climate change and Black Lives Matter. Now, events like Katrina are happening everywhere. In Los Angeles, I've lived in fear of a forest fire destroying my home (something that was unthinkable to me fifteen years ago.)

Although Mack and Letitia’s journeys are historical, their desires for love, comfort and familiarity are universal. As we face new challenges in the 21st century, I hope this film will show the hard lessons of Katrina, for those who hope to rebuild in the aftermath of disaster and the years and even decades that follow.

My Background:
I'm an independent female filmmaker and my films have played at over 70 film festivals worldwide.  Learn more about me here.

Thank you for your support for this labor of love!


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Tyrrell Shaffner 
New Orleans, LA
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