Past and present collide in this powerful documentary about Faubourg Treme, the fabled New Orleans’ neighborhood that gave birth to jazz, launched America’s first black daily newspaper, and nurtured generations of African American activists.
Executive produced by Wynton Marsalis and Stanley Nelson, with commentary from renowned scholars John Hope Franklin and Eric Foner, Faubourg Treme is the riveting story of one community’s epic struggle for racial equality - from slave revolts and underground free black antebellum resistance, through the challenges of post-Katrina rebuilding today - all set to a fabulous soundtrack of New Orleans music through the ages. This award-winning film gives the depth of history to current racial strife and challenges viewers to think historically and critically about the links between race, class, conflict, and cultural expression in our modern communities.
Long ago during slavery, Faubourg Treme was home to the largest community of free black people in the Deep South and a hotbed of political and artistic ferment. Here black and white, free and enslaved, rich and poor co-habitated, collaborated, and clashed to create America’s first civil rights movement and much of what defines New Orleans culture up to the present day. In many ways its story encapsulates the dramatic path of African American history over the centuries. Executive produced by Wynton Marsalis and Stanley Nelson, "Faubourg Treme" is a riveting tale of hope, resistance, and heartbreak. It sheds important new light on both African American history and current issues of racial inequality. This is the true story of the neighborhood that inspired David Simon’s fictional HBO television series “Treme”.
Our guide through the film and three centuries of black history and culture is New Orleans Times-Picayune columnist Lolis Eric Elie (later a writer for the HBO TV series “Treme”) who decided that rather than abandon his heritage he would invest in it by rehabilitating an old house in the neighborhood. His 75 year-old contractor, Irving Trevigne, whose family has been in the construction business there for over 200 years, becomes a symbol of the neighborhood’s continuity and resourcefulness; Irving Trevigne is a man who, unlike many Americans, is deeply rooted in his community and its traditions. Renowned historians John Hope Franklin and Eric Foner and Louisiana Poet Laureate Brenda Marie Osbey explain what made Treme such a fertile ground for rebellion and creativity. “Faubourg Treme” was largely shot before the Katrina tragedy and edited afterward, giving the film both a celebratory and elegiac tone. It is a film of such effortless intimacy, subtle glances and authentic details that only two native New Orleanians could have made it. The Treme district was damaged when the levees broke as a result of Hurricane Katrina. Many Treme residents are still unable to return home, and the neighborhood is fighting some of the same civil rights battles first launched here 150 years ago. A deeply moved but defiant Brenda Marie Osbey concludes “Faubourg Treme”: “ Everywhere we go, we take the spirit of this city's heroes with us and the will to live and fight again.”
“Faubourg Treme” premiered at Tribeca International Film Festival, was featured three years in a row as a national PBS Black History Month Presentation, and won Best Documentary awards from the San Francisco International Film Festival, Popular American Culture Association, and The Society for Visual Anthropology.