Lots of films (and even a few TV series) attempt to “explain” New Orleans. It’s a pity so few of them “get” New Orleans. At the fourth annual FilmOrama that opens this Friday (April 5), viewers will have a chance to see a film that does both very well.
The film is called Getting Back to Abnormal. It’s a no-holds-barred look at race, politics, culture and all other things post-Katrina New Orleans, set against the backdrop of then-District B Council member Stacy Head’s bid for re-election in her black-majority district in 2010. While race and politics feature prominently in the film, it’s about so much more.
It’s not a spoiler to note that Head won that 2010 race (and went on to eke out a narrow victory in a subsequent election for an at-large council seat), because knowing that does not in any way detract from the story line. This is not so much a film about what happened as why stuff happens in New Orleans — and why, often times, better stuff does not happen.
Peeling back the many layers of our unique culture is not easy; filmmakers Louis Alvarez, Andy Kolker, Peter Odabashian and Paul Stekler have done a masterful job. They feature Head and her opponent, Pastor Corey Watson, of course, but also a diverse cast of politicos, activists, protesters, displaced public housing residents, returning residents, civic leaders, radio talk show hosts and more — all with great insights about the “old” and “new” New Orleans.
Even though I followed that election closely, I was still glued to my set as I watched Head and Watson barrel down the local political highway toward their election-day showdown in the film. More important, Getting Back to Abnormal still holds quite a few surprises even three years after that fateful election. Whether you consider yourself an expert on local politics or a casual observer of New Orleans culture, this is a film you shouldn’t miss.
Getting Back to Abnormal shows at the Prytania at 7:15 p.m. Saturday (April 6); 2:45 p.m. Sunday (April 7); and 5:30 p.m. next Wednesday (April 10).