Welcome to New Orleans
Welcome to New Orleans explores the breakdown of the major American city through the story of local activist, Malik Rahim. Rahim, a 58 year old former member of the Black Panthers, remained in New Orleans during the hurricane and became a local hero in the days after the flooding began.
The story takes its departure in the days after the hurricane’s landfall as despair is growing and the city begins to flood. Malik is bringing food, water and hope to the few elderly and poor who haven’t left the city. His one-man mission quickly builds into an organization, and volunteers, donations and media attention from all over America head his way. Malik’s story is juxtaposed in the film with the reactions of his white neighbours to a city fallen into chaos.
Unlike other filmed stories of Katrina’s aftermath, this film succeeds in telling an important story without devolving into self-congratulatory voyeurism and patronising sentiment. Its stark and affecting images, and respectful but intimate relationship to the film’s central character engage the viewer in an honest way.
And while this understated film is one man’s story, it is also a powerful and disturbing picture of just how entrenched issues of race and class are in America at the start of the 21st century.