Curing Ignorance Through the Lens
The interactive platform features short films documenting the challenges faced in the wake of calamity.
Film producer Luisa Dantas moved to New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina to document the stories that were unfolding as rebuilding began. She collected over 1,500 hours of footage, which was made into a documentary called Land of Opportunity. However Dantas saw themes (such as economic collapse, climate change, and urban development) that could be applied to many other places across the U.S. In collaboration with website designers, filmmakers, and community advocates, an experimental multimedia platform (also called Land of Opportunity) was created. Some of the issues the platform covers include economic displacement, participatory budgeting, and gentrification.
The site’s newest component is Katrina/Sandy which features a timeline that follows the phases of both the disasters, from the storms themselves to the aftermaths, recoveries, and the future. Included on the timeline are short films documenting the challenges that individuals and families faced, such as waiting weeks for the power to get turned back on or the bureaucracy in claiming insurance money. Dantas says, “After Katrina, the world was shocked by the devastation, the inequity, and the government’s incompetent response. As documentary media producers, we wondered what we can learn by placing stories and scholarship from Katrina and Sandy side-by-side.” Visitors to the site are also asked to leave comments and submit ideas for effective ways to prevent disasters and when that fails, how to better respond to people’s needs. The website is still in beta but eventually it will be expanded with additional research and reports as well as calls to action.