For Immediate Release—Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2006
Mary E. McCrank
Media Relations Officer
Groundbreaking Katrina Documentary to be Screened at SUNY Geneseo
GENESEO, N.Y.—The State University of New York at Geneseo will screen "Belly of the Basin," a documentary about the lives of those affected by Hurricane Katrina. The documentary, produced by Roxana Walker-Canton and Tina Morton, will be shown at 3:30 p.m. Nov. 8 in 202 Newton Hall. The running time of the documentary is 54 minutes, and the screening is free and open to the public. The two documentary makers will be present to lead a discussion and take questions after the screening.
"The documentary will show the total disruption of normalcy that the breaking of the levees has created for those who survived," says Walker-Canton. "We want to be clear that it was not the natural occurrence of Hurricane Katrina that caused all of the devastation, but that the actual flooding caused by the breaking of the levees was what killed over 1,500 people and left thousands homeless and displaced.
"Hurricane Katrina exposed many inequalities present in New Orleans and in many other cities. Viewers will see the reality of losing all of one's possessions, having generations of families dispersed, students having no schools to attend, depression, unemployment, sadness, rage and nightmares. The documentary will explore reasons for the hesitation in recovery after the flooding, including race, class and gender. Ultimately the documentary will show that even after one year, the poorest communities, many of which are African-American and Native American, are still left untouched," says Walker-Canton.
The two documentary makers had specific goals in mind when they approached SUNY Geneseo about showing their work on campus. "Tina and I wanted to bring the documentary to Geneseo for a number of reasons," says Walker-Canton. "First, we want to bring awareness to the crisis still taking place in New Orleans throughout the United States and abroad. Second, we target colleges and universities because it has been college-age students who have contributed many volunteer hours in helping to rebuild New Orleans. We want to further encourage volunteerism in our young adults and a sense of giving back to our communities."
Walker-Canton and Morton wanted to bring personalized attention to those affected by the hurricane's aftermath. "We chose to produce this documentary because we were unsatisfied with the depictions of African-American and poor New Orleans natives that were produced by the media following the disaster," says Walker-Canton. "In many ways, African-American survival was criminalized with news stories focused on looting and unfounded accusations of killing and rapes.
"Many times it was difficult to find the voices of those who had suffered the disaster. We wanted residents of New Orleans to be able to tell their stories without journalistic confines," says Walker-Canton.
Filming the documentary required a large amount of legwork for Walker-Canton and Morton. "We made a total of four trips to New Orleans, spending anywhere from three days to a week in the city. We also interviewed survivors who had been displaced to other cities like Baton Rouge, La., where the population tripled after the influx of residents who were bussed to the trailer communities about the flood," says Walker-Canton.
The documentary is intended to do more than bring attention to the New Orleans tragedy. "We want to encourage students to not only volunteer time to work in New Orleans, but to consider the political, social, economic, cultural and spiritual implications of the way in which this disaster has been handled."
This event is sponsored by African studies and the Office of the Provost.
Written by Joe Mignano, public relations intern in the Office of Communications and Publications.