FIVE STORIES FROM LOUISIANA’S DISAPPEARING DELTA TO DEBUT FRIDAY, APRIL 10 ON SMITHSONIAN CHANNEL DIGITAL PLATFORMS STREAMING FOR FREE
NEW YORK – March 12, 2020 – Every hour, an area the size of a football field erodes from Louisiana’s wetlands – a delta filled with rich estuarine life that supports a robust commercial fishing industry, fertile oil fields and millions of migrating waterfowl. An infinitely complex ecosystem, the bayous of Louisiana are the cradle of the state’s economy. Located at the base of the Mississippi, this key navigation channel allows the passage of goods worldwide. Yet each year 25-square miles of land are lost forever, displacing its marine life, damaging local oil and gas industries and threatening the citizens of New Orleans. LAST CALL FOR THE BAYOU follows the lives of those experiencing these catastrophic changes first-hand to discover the difficulties of life on the bayou and capture a way of life on the brink of collapse.
Filmmakers Dominic and Nadia Gill bring five intimate stories to life through aerial photography, a two-man Inspire Drone team and a paraglider, all while capturing the beauty and visceral nature of Louisiana’s wetlands. Buried in these stories of destruction are individual moments of resilience, where families have remained unified and proud to call the bayou their home. LAST CALL FOR THE BAYOU will be available beginning on Friday, April 10 on Smithsonian Channel digital platforms. All five short-form episodes will also be available for free on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram and across multiple streaming TV provider websites, apps and free on demand channels. Additionally, the episodes are free on www.smithsonianchannel.com.
“The story of rising sea-level rise and land preservation, in a time of rapid change, is a complex story and we aimed to capture this complexity thoughtfully, through the diverse perspectives of Louisiana’s long-time residents,” said Dominic and Nadia Gill. “We’re grateful to help bring this story to a wide audience and engage in the discussion around potential solutions for protecting our collective Earth.”
In episode one, ON A WING AND A PRAYER, Ben Depp, a landscape photographer, has set out to chronicle the wetlands in a series of high-art aerial photographs that he captures with the help of his 21-foot paragliding wing and 200HP motor driven propeller strapped to his back. From above, he has become acutely aware of the vast network of pipeline canals, which are reportedly responsible for up to 30% of the bayou’s land loss. In this episode, viewers take a trip to the barrier islands where Depp flies his glider to reveal the recent restoration efforts that the state put into rebuilding the land.
Subsequent episodes of LAST CALL FOR THE BAYOU are:
SOUTH AS SOUTH CAN GO
Kasha Clay is concerned for her Houma tribal culture as people have migrated away from the bayou. Committed to seeing it survive, Clay began working with the National Academy of Sciences to record oral histories of her community and culture. Viewers meet tribe elders as they share personal memories of their coastal communities, some of which no longer exist due to land loss. Clay’s message for greater Louisiana: you too are at risk for losing culture and protection of land that is vital to maintain the bayou’s much-loved way of life.
MUD, SWEAT & TEARS
Dr. Alex Kolker is part of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium – one of the premier research institutes working to understand the mechanisms and impacts of coastal land loss – and has spent the last decade studying sea-level rise. In this episode, Dr. Kolker walks viewers through the current restoration projects, to determine whether they are having the desired impact. He also seeks to understand if the restoration project will be enough to save New Orleans from going underwater.
SINK OR SWIM
The Louisiana wetlands are the breadbasket of the United States as far as shellfish is concerned, but the rich bounty that the delta has produced is seemingly doomed. Follow Gleason Alexis, both a shrimper and oysterman, as he prepares to adapt to a changing future where saltwater pushes from the Gulf of Mexico threaten the local ecosystem. The proposed restoration solutions do little to provide reassurance as fishermen fear too much added freshwater will also destroy the habitat as they once knew. But with the help of his family and positive outlook, Gleason learns to adapt to the changing times and overcomes the challenges faced by many in the bayou.
THE DUCK QUEEN OF PLAQUIMINES PARISH
Albertine Kimble takes viewers to her favorite hunting spots, sharing how the dying marsh is disrupting the Mississippi Flyway. Kimble is known as the best duck hunter in the parish, and as a former coastal plan manager, she knows Plaquimines wetlands better than almost anyone. Documented through her eyes, this episode exposes how human engineering has prevented the Mississippi River from flowing its natural course, leaving the wetlands desperately deprived of necessary nutrients and sediment needed to survive. Kimble’s 40 years of avid hunting and experience provides this deeply intimate, personal account of the struggles endured on the changing Louisiana wetlands.
LAST CALL FOR THE BAYOU is produced by Encompass Films and directed by Dominic Gill and produced by Nadia Gill.
LAST CALL FOR THE BAYOU will be available on all SMITHSONIAN CHANNEL digital platforms and Apple®, Amazon, Roku® Players and TVs, and Android devices, as well as online at watch.smithsonianchannel.com.