Hollow Tree: Film Screening Q&A with the Director & Three Protagonists (Video)



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  • - Welcome to Tulane University
  • and to the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South’s screening of Hollow Tree.
  • I'm Rebecca Snedeker, and I direct the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South,
  • which is housed in Tulane School of Liberal Arts.
  • We're thrilled to be here with you all for tonight's special screening
  • and discussion with the film's director and three protagonists.
  • We'll begin with a land acknowledgment by Dr. Judy Maxwell.
  • Dr. Maxwell is a professor in the Department of Anthropology,
  • and since 2010, she's been heading a collaborative team
  • of Tulane students and the Tunica-Biloxi tribal members and scholars,
  • the Tunica-Biloxi language and Culture Revitalization Program,
  • working to revitalize the Tunica language. We're grateful to Dr. Maxwell
  • for serving on the program committee of the Center's
  • Tulane Gulf South Indigenous Studies Symposium for the past three iterations,
  • and to her for launching the new Native American Studies minor
  • within the School of Liberal Arts.
  • Welcome, Dr. Maxwell. [Applause].
  • - [Greeting in Tunica].
  • Good evening, y’all. I'm Judith Maxwell.
  • It wasn't a surprise, and I'm pleased to be here.
  • I greeted you in Tunica.
  • So just a small sample that the language is coming back.
  • The last native speaker died in 1948, but we now have,
  • according to ethnologue, we have 32 young speakers.
  • The last count I had was 80. But you know who's counting? All right.
  • I would like to begin this evening and thank you all for being here
  • with the land acknowledgment and the land acknowledgment that I'm going to read to
  • you is the official Tulane land acknowledgment.
  • If you ever want this land acknowledgment,
  • or one like it, it's on the Tulane landing page.
  • You have to go all the way through everything on the page.
  • At the very bottom, there's a link to this acknowledgement.
  • Well, let me share this with you and let us all think about what these words mean.
  • The Choctaw, Houma, Chitimacha, Biloxi and other
  • Native peoples have lived on this land since time immemorial.
  • Their identities are inextricably connected to this place.
  • With gratitude and honor, Tulane University pays
  • tribute to the original inhabitants of this land.
  • The city of New Orleans was not built upon virgin soil,
  • but merely served as a continuation of a great indigenous trade hub
  • known in Choctaw as Bulbancha, the place of other tongues.
  • For thousands of years, people lived along the Mississippi River
  • and Bulbancha served as a place for diverse cultures to come together.
  • We acknowledge the grounds of our campus and the city around us
  • as home to numerous tribes before and after the arrival of Europeans.
  • Their tradition of community and sharing demonstrated by indigenous peoples
  • enabled European immigrants to survive in a foreign environment
  • and has influenced New Orleans and the southeastern culture
  • since colonization began.
  • From food and music to art and language, Native Americans continue
  • to leave their mark on our city and academic community.
  • We recognize that as a result of broken treaties and involuntary removals,
  • Native Americans were often forced from their lands.
  • We remember and pay respect to the communities impacted by these actions.
  • Yet the resilient voices of Native Americans
  • are still heard and remain an inseparable part of our local culture.
  • In that spirit, we acknowledge that indigenous nations
  • that have lived and continue to live thrive here.
  • That's the end of the official land acknowledgment.
  • And I would just like to note
  • that the purpose of a land acknowledgment isn't just to say some words,
  • but to think about what they mean and to think about Indigenous people.
  • So I'd like to share just a little bit, tiny little bit more
  • of the Tunica language with you.
  • So in the Tunica language, the word for an indigenous person is [Tunica].
  • And if you translate that, that means free person.
  • And the [Tunica] are contrasted
  • with the [Tunica], who are people that we would call
  • African-Americans today, [Tunica], which is literally white people
  • and all of these peoples are divided into different ethnic groups.
  • So, for example, among the [Tunica], the white people
  • we have [Tunica], which you can probably figure out is English.
  • We have [Tunica], which you can probably figure out are the Spanish.
  • And then there are the French who are [Tunica], the real white people.
  • So I understand that
  • there's nothing much that we can do about our ancestry.
  • We are who we are.
  • But there is something that we can do about our future.
  • And I hope that in the spirit of the movie that you're going to see this evening
  • and all of us who are gathered together in hope and solidarity,
  • that we can all become [Tunica]. [Tunica greeting].
  • - Thank you, Dr. Maxwell.
  • And I'll continue with some more gratitudes.
  • I want to thank Dean Brian Edwards and the School of Liberal Arts
  • Dean's office for their support.
  • Our team at the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South, Dr. Denise Frazier,
  • Regina Cairns, and Demi Ward in hosting this programing.
  • The Liberal arts interdisciplinary programs
  • who have co-sponsored and publicized this event
  • Africana Studies, Environmental Studies and Native American Studies,
  • as well as Tulane Library for documenting this evening.
  • And finally, to everyone who helped
  • spread the word and all of you who have joined us this evening on campus.
  • The New Orleans Center for the Gulf South
  • is an interdisciplinary place-based center
  • that promotes the understanding of New Orleans and the Gulf South
  • region and the region's relationship to the planet.
  • We support research, teaching and community engagement
  • that relate the local to the global. And all of our programing
  • is based on the idea that the more we understand where we are,
  • the more fully we can engage our democracy and therefore our collective destiny.
  • We have a lot of upcoming events working with a new registration process.
  • We are grateful to everyone who registered.
  • That means you will also receive our newsletter,
  • which you're welcome to unsubscribe from, but we hope that you might
  • stick around on it. We always feature our events and things
  • going on publications and presentations by our research fellows,
  • and we recommend other people's events and other organization events
  • as well as advertising select job positions and funding opportunities.
  • We have an upcoming fellowship deadline, a research fellowship deadline
  • that is next Monday, March 13th, and it's called the Global South Fellowship.
  • And for some logistics for the bathrooms,
  • if you need to go there, head out the doors in the back
  • and take your first left and then another left.
  • And at the end of the film,
  • I want to let you know we're going to let all the credits roll.
  • That doesn't always happen.
  • But we want to appreciate everyone who made this film and just have a minute
  • to continue letting it kind of sink in.
  • And then I'll invite director Kira Akerman
  • and the protagonists to the stage for a brief discussion and a Q&A.
  • After the discussion, we welcome you to join us in Newcomb Hall,
  • and we'll be having people help direct you there if you don't know where it is.
  • It's on the end of the Newcomb Quad here
  • toward the right when you exit the building.
  • And on the first floor in the faculty lounge, we'll have refreshments
  • and hope to continue the conversation with anyone who's able to stay.
  • Please know that this intro and the Q&A after the screening
  • will be filmed and available online. And a safety note,
  • just please keep a pathway in the aisle for at least two people to pass.
  • So now to the film, at last.
  • The film Hollow Tree is winner of the 2022 New Orleans Film Festival's
  • Best Louisiana Feature Jury Award and the Populist Audience Award.
  • The film is a centerpiece in the growing body of work that shares narratives
  • that tell the story of this region from the formation of our deltaic lobes
  • and draws connections between our land, water, racialized histories
  • and of indigenous and African descended peoples and infrastructure.
  • The director, Kira Akerman, is the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South Fellow.
  • She received a fellowship for Station 15, which is a beautiful documentary short
  • that served as a prototype for Hollow Tree, her first feature film.
  • And in 2019, she received a Monroe Fellowship
  • to support production of this feature film.
  • More recently, she's been an ongoing consultant in the center's
  • strategic planning and has been an invaluable partner to think
  • through the role of climate justice education in the liberal arts.
  • She's been a guest speaker at many departments and programs
  • at Tulane, including Architecture, Digital Media Practices,
  • Environmental Studies and History. And for those of you who are faculty here,
  • I would love to talk to you about the use of the film in your classes.
  • She also just had an exhibit at the Small Center.
  • And I want to mention, speaking of the Small Center,
  • which is in Central City, some of you may know
  • is a part of the School of Architecture.
  • There's an exhibit there called Extractivism
  • that relates deeply to this film that I recommend.
  • We're excited to have many of the film crew members with us tonight,
  • and also its stars.
  • So in addition to Kira, I want to welcome the film's protagonists,
  • Kenzie Fanguy, Tanielma DaCosta and Annabelle Pavy.
  • We also have producer Chachi Hauser here, executive producer Jolene Pinder
  • who's also professor at Tulane and cinematographer Maxime Kathari.
  • Welcome you all.
  • And we want to also acknowledge Tulane professors and instructors
  • who played a role in the film. Jelagat Cheruiyot,
  • who's an evolutionary biologist in the School of Science and Engineering,
  • and Aron Chang, who's a former instructor in the School of Architecture,
  • as well as former Tulane professor and environmental historian
  • Andy Horowitz, who's now at Yale and UConn.
  • And with that, we're now going to roll the film, and we'll see you after.
  • What I'd love to do is invite everyone -- sorry,
  • I just did that because I'm so moved by the film.
  • I get just kind of like somatically overwhelmed.
  • It's really beautiful. Y’all have made such a beautiful film.
  • So I want to invite everyone who's here who contributed to making this film.
  • Kira and the three protagonists who you've met through the film,
  • and also the producer and cinematographer who are here and anyone else
  • who's contributed to the film.
  • Whether you gave feedback out of focus group or showed the film
  • in a class or gave money during fundraising
  • in any way, just please stand up for a minute.
  • [Applause].
  • Thank you.
  • All right.
  • So I'm going to start with some questions.
  • So this is Kira, who you haven't seen on camera yet.
  • Kira Akerman the director and Annabelle, Mekenzie and Tanielma.
  • And I just want to start with asking the protagonists
  • if you can bring us into a moment during the filmmaking in the film
  • production, where you learned something from from a place where you were
  • that was previously unfamiliar and just what was it like being part
  • of this filmmaking and learning from different people in different places?
  • And do y’all have a mic up here?
  • Okay, great.
  • And we can pass these to...
  • - Hello. Okay.
  • I think of the many moments that I could talk endlessly about.
  • One of them that stood out to me was whenever I was out
  • at the Atchafalaya River Basin with Annie and Roy, that's the couple who was
  • talking about the tree that was chopped down, the cypress tree.
  • And what I observed during my time with them was
  • the happiness that can come with living so close to nature and
  • the home that I grew up in was just surrounded by streets.
  • I didn't have a lot of like field time, I guess you could say.
  • And I think that whether you recognize it or not
  • within yourself, every human has this part of themself
  • that's so drawn to nature because we are from nature.
  • And I really --
  • even from observing the film,
  • like time and time again, I observe even more
  • how much they influenced me.
  • - Every time I see the boat scenes, mainly the one shrimping with my grandpa
  • that is very dear because, you know, after we filmed that
  • and then like we all went home and started talking about it,
  • like everything looked very different to him.
  • So the land slowly, well, eroding very quickly.
  • As for him just taking a couple of years away from it and him going back
  • and really not recognizing certain places, it was, you know, kind of
  • like it made me kind of like sad for him.
  • Like, wow, like you've only been away for a couple, you know, years and you going
  • back and you don't even, like, recognize it yourself.
  • You know, when I talk about a childhood fishing spot
  • and I hold that so dearly because that's, you know, like where we started from
  • and I can go there today and it look completely different.
  • And I mean, I still have the memories.
  • It's just like to like, physically see it. It, you know, it kind of hurts. So.
  • - Yeah, I think for myself, just thinking about speaking with Eve
  • being in Freetown and Cancer Alley and just -- Oh, you can't...
  • Oh, do I need to move it closer? Is that better? Okay.
  • I was just saying that being
  • speaking with Eve in Cancer Alley and being in Freetown
  • and just learning about how, you know,
  • when you have this instance where your own experiences are evidence
  • and for that to not be taken seriously or not to be like, credible or...
  • that was definitely very powerful for me to know that,
  • you know, we're in spaces and systems that, you know, are...
  • we are, our experience can be devalued, but that that shouldn't
  • keep us from holding onto them
  • and knowing that they’re valid and that that is a source of experience.
  • That is a source of credibility just as any expert or anything like that.
  • That evidence is important.
  • And yeah, it also takes me back to being in the Army Corps of Engineers
  • and being like, I know what I know. I know what I see.
  • I know what I've heard. I see this.
  • And for, for you tell me that that's not true.
  • That’s kind of crazy.
  • - What did y’all learn from each other?
  • What are some moments where you realize - I mean, some of them that are so
  • beautiful are in the film - but are there other ones that come to mind to me?
  • - I've said this in a previous Q&A, but I honestly mean this.
  • Working with Annabelle not working with y’all...
  • Learning and gaining a friendship with Annabelle and Tanielma
  • has honestly given me a sense of,
  • I don't know, like I feel more comfortable being my true self.
  • They have given me the outmost support and guidance
  • throughout this whole journey that we've been on.
  • So I take away from them as just believing in myself more
  • and I cannot thank y’all enough for that.
  • - I think what I learned is that the kind of the act
  • of participating in environmental activism requires community.
  • Community often results in friendship
  • and being able to observe the different ways that each of us
  • absorbs information and the different outlooks
  • we had on it are further evidence for the necessity to learn together.
  • And I think that's another great reason to, like, share the movie even more,
  • because now all of you have a different outlook on it
  • and you are a part of the family now of learning with us.
  • - Yeah, I'll just piggyback on that. Community has been so important
  • because I mean, everything that we learned was so heavy.
  • Like I think about just being, you know, at the plantation after Robin.
  • And I love the fact that we were there talking about that together
  • and kind of, you know, collecting everything.
  • And it's so important because, you know,
  • facing climate change is not something that anyone can do on their own.
  • So I'm so grateful I did have you guys because it is so heavy.
  • But when we think about how all of us care about it,
  • all of us can come together for it. It definitely strengthens us.
  • So I hope you guys can see our friendship and as well, and feel that as well.
  • - One thing that -- there's so many things that again moved me about the film.
  • It's something that I want everyone to see, particularly in southern Louisiana,
  • but there's so many ways that it relates to elsewhere in the world.
  • And when I think of you, Kira, as a friend and colleague being here,
  • I’d just love to hear your perspective on what inspired you to make the film.
  • I think one of the wild things, ways that has been a gift in my life,
  • in addition to the long timeline
  • that it sets up for us to learn about and be able to understand our surroundings
  • more is just the role of infrastructure in our lives and engineering
  • and just seeing you all hang out on this oil rig and come to know one another
  • in that setting is really profound to me because so many of those things that
  • our lives depend on in a variety of ways and that impact us so deeply
  • are hidden and not visible.
  • So if you could just share some
  • about some of the choices you made in coming to making the film.
  • And just I want to say how much I admired the...
  • how you and your team like laid out just the exposition of the film
  • and the complexity of the connections that you're making over time
  • throughout the film and how beautiful that is.
  • And I know how challenging that is to to describe
  • and really clearly educate us in what is happening around us.
  • - Yeah, it's very, very hard [laughter].
  • Every issue in this state is connected to myriad other issues.
  • You can't talk about one without there being so many other problems. So
  • I before this film, I made a short film that's 15 minutes long
  • and it's about a young person
  • exploring the pump station system in Louisiana or New Orleans, rather.
  • And as she
  • learns about this underground system, she comes to connect it to herself
  • and her own identity and the ways that she feels oppressed like water.
  • And it was such a powerful experience to learn alongside
  • this young person in the short 15 minute film
  • that I wanted to expand it into a longer film
  • about a larger drainage basin.
  • So moving from the pump station system in New Orleans to the
  • Mississippi River basin, with not one but three young people
  • who lived in different geographies in this place.
  • And seeing if together we could figure out
  • how the river shaped us and how our infrastructure shapes us,
  • particularly as women here.
  • Yeah.
  • - This'll be my last question then I’ll open it up.
  • But I could ask things all night.
  • But one of the things that is so beautiful in
  • the film is the sound and all the sounds in the film -
  • the sound design, the location recording, your voices, your singing.
  • We're doing a project through the Center for the Gulf South where Dr. Frazier
  • and I have been hosting and organizing a series
  • called Anthroposonic, and considering the intersections of music,
  • sound studies, and climate change and racial and social justice.
  • And we've invited a different artist every semester for the past year
  • and a half to collaborate with us and present work at that intersection.
  • And we just took a group of mostly students and some members of the public
  • out to Lily Bayou near Lake Maurepas,
  • and an artist, Demi Ward, who also works with us
  • recorded sounds in the landscape and is going to make a composition.
  • But just having this focus on sound and moving through
  • that experience really changed the day for me.
  • Like we were... when we set out,
  • we went under the interstate in our kayaks and I felt the vibration
  • of that infrastructure and the sound of the traffic.
  • And then as we moved further into the bayou,
  • there were more animal sounds, or we could hear them more.
  • They weren't masked.
  • Anyhow, I just wanted to bring that question to y’all this evening
  • and just think about just the way that you all listened to one another
  • and listened to the people who are sharing information is really beautiful to me.
  • And we've been able to -- we’re here listening to y’all.
  • Can you just speak of any sound that comes to mind
  • when I ask that from the landscape or from the film
  • and elaborate if you want or not.
  • But I would just love to hear what you think.
  • And then Kira also at some point to hear about your process
  • in designing the soundscape.
  • Sound is something that so often overlooked gets overlooked in film
  • but is essential.
  • And I'm grateful that my first lesson in filmmaking was, If it sounds good,
  • it looks good because it's so hard to tolerate
  • sound that we can't hear if we want to understand what's happening.
  • So I’ll pitch that to y’all now.
  • - Well I think about being at the old river control structure.
  • You can hear the Mississippi River rushing very, very well.
  • And it's just this contradiction of knowing how powerful
  • and how like how much force it has.
  • Yet it's like being controlled. And that was definitely
  • -- like being able to hear it kind of makes it more alive, knowing that
  • this body of water is -- well not body of water,
  • but this force is flowing
  • and it's sad that it’s being controlled just like how it's alive, just like us.
  • - I think throughout the film there were like, varying pitches
  • of like the grumbling of flowing water
  • and it kind of... it makes you think about like,
  • I don't know, this grumbling. I personify a lot of nature, like
  • the ending little song that I sang, I was like, personifying a tree.
  • - [Inaudible].
  • - No, no, no singing. [Laughter].
  • And I, I think especially today, whenever I was listening to, like,
  • the grumbling at the Old River control structure, it kind of feels like
  • the grumbling of Mother Nature.
  • And like, even whenever things seem like
  • they're going okay, there's always an underlying
  • passing of water that is influencing our structures and ecosystems,
  • whether we’re regarding it or not, actively.
  • - I too will talk about the water.
  • [Laughter].
  • So the sound of the water crashing against a boat, it's, you know,
  • it could be scary if it's like, you know, strong and forceful,
  • but also take into account this slow just cruising waves and just smashing.
  • Any time I've ever been on a boat and I hear that I can go straight to sleep.
  • It's peaceful to me. But not only that.
  • I was asked a question the other day and they asked me,
  • Are you scared to lose your home?
  • And I'm like -- or like, are you scared knowing, like,
  • knowing something is coming?
  • And I'm like, You can wake up and be scared every day, but
  • if you live with that, then you will never experience, you know, life as it is.
  • Life is beautiful.
  • You can't take, you can't live with having fear that something's going to happen.
  • It's like you said about being scared.
  • You can't do that because then you miss out on the opportunities
  • that are right in front of you. But you're too worried about being scared.
  • So y’all water forceful mind slow
  • bringing back memories of just taking a good nap on a boat. [Laughter].
  • - I don't think I can say anything better than that. [Laughter].
  • All the water sounds are intentional.
  • Intentional water sound design.
  • So when you hear -- when you see the levees, you're hearing
  • constrained, restrained water.
  • And when you're in more organic, natural places, you're hearing
  • more free flowing water.
  • And it's working on a very subtle level throughout the film.
  • - And a shout out to your beautiful composer, Free Feral.
  • - Free is amazing.
  • - And who did the sound design?
  • - Arjun Sheth. He's also totally amazing. Yeah.
  • - So let's open it up to the audience. And I'm curious,
  • I would like to foreground any student voices
  • if there are any students who have questions.
  • We want to kick it to y’all first. Yes.
  • - First, thanks to y’all for being vulnerable and doing this work,
  • it really is extremely meaningful.
  • I’m from Houma as well about ten years older than you guys,
  • and I spent my entire life basically trying to articulate
  • what you guys did really so, so thoroughly and so movingly.
  • I guess my question is,
  • do you know from this experience like the moment that things clicked to you
  • like I grew up in Houma going to public school where I learned
  • all these factors but never the synthesis of
  • how it all worked together in a system.
  • So now, having had this kind of an experience,
  • do you think that it’s changed what you're going to do with your life
  • or how you communicate about where you're from?
  • [Inaudible].
  • - Yeah.
  • So as soon as you said I immediately thought about being
  • at that little restaurant
  • and watching that video clip of the land just slowly disappearing.
  • That was the first time I've ever seen it like on a screen.
  • I mean, like I said, I've had teachers tell me Houma would be underwater.
  • I knew that, you know, we lose a football field every hour.
  • And when you hear that, you're like,
  • okay, but actually, like actually seeing it is like, wow.
  • So for me that, you know, and then like I said, you know,
  • I can go back to old spots and I'm like, wow, this is --
  • I see it on the screen, but now I can also see it visibly.
  • Yeah, it makes me, you know, like, what can we do, you know, to
  • preserve the little land that we have left before it is nothing but water?
  • And then we also have no land for our homes.
  • You know, it makes everyone relocate. And I'm a big Houma person.
  • Like, you know, I have family who no longer live in Houma and they come down
  • as their vacation Houma and I'm like, You coming to Houma for vacation?
  • I miss being home. I missed the bayou. I miss just being here and that's it.
  • I mean, that’s what it's about.
  • Coming back home and being in the scenery that you've seen all your life.
  • - Who else?
  • - So.
  • - Oh.
  • - Oh, sorry. I was just going to say like, it's 1897, just knowing that,
  • you know, some things are actually very --
  • I mean, we learn about, you know, Okay, we need to fix the,
  • all the problems with the environment and there’s all these little factors.
  • But we -- I don't think I really ever, it ever clicked until that moment that
  • everything was deliberately
  • like everything were choices made over decades.
  • That was really key for me because it's like,
  • Oh, you need to save water and you need to recycle.
  • But it's like, why? [Laughter].
  • - I think the moment that things started clicking for me
  • was when I visited the Whitney Plantation, because it kind of showed me
  • like how much of history has promoted the restriction of our, of our
  • natural ecosystems as well as our fellow individuals
  • companied with learning about Cancer Alley
  • and how the effects are still present today.
  • And so seeing like a broader picture kind of
  • allowed everything else to fall into place.
  • - Other questions.
  • Yes. Hello, Professor.
  • - Thank you for being so vulnerable, so brave. This is a question for Kira.
  • How did you find them?
  • - Well, Lauren Cargo, who's sitting over there, and Chachi
  • and I spent a very long time driving
  • sometimes together, sometimes separately around the state,
  • interviewing young people and asking them what they noticed
  • in their changing environments.
  • And at the same time, we were sending emails to friends
  • and I knew I wanted to work with three young people
  • in different geographical locations.
  • And so I was emailing friends, saying like Do you know any young person
  • who is curious and cool and, you know, might want to oddly be on camera
  • for an extended period of time
  • and I got a bunch of emails back and it was those emails from friends
  • ultimately that led me to these three, and it was multiple people
  • in their communities who are like Annabelle, Tanielma, Mekenzie.
  • And then they all asked really beautiful questions about why,
  • why their community was flooding so much or why they weren't being taught
  • about these issues in school, or why was nobody talking about the land sinking?
  • And I had really compelling conversations with each of them.
  • And that was it.
  • - Other questions. Yes.
  • - Again, just amazing.
  • I’m a seventh grade teacher and I so want to show this to my class.
  • I’m very excited.
  • First thing that popped in my head
  • when you all were at the Army Corps of Engineers, you were talking
  • to the front lady of the desk and then a public affairs guy.
  • Were scientists not available or engineers to talk to when you were there?
  • - The woman actually who we were talking to is an engineer.
  • - Oh. Very interesting.
  • - Yes, she was I think following Army Corps protocol and, as you saw,
  • regurgitating what she was supposed to say. Yeah.
  • - [Inaudible].
  • - We didn't -- we weren't intending to set her up either.
  • That just had, that organically occurred.
  • - Yes. Grace.
  • - Yeah, thanks so much y’all.
  • Y’all are very inspiring and this was really beautiful to watch.
  • I just was curious what y’all are up to now
  • and what you're curious about whether it's around
  • kind of environment stuff or whether its just like what’re you doing.
  • - Yeah. So right now I am a senior in graphic design at LSU.
  • And like, it's remarkable
  • how much this project has influenced the things that I'm creating.
  • So right now I'm doing my final thesis project and it's really central around
  • bringing people back into Louisiana because I started my research recognizing
  • like cultural trauma that has existed in Cajun communities
  • and it was such a hard and difficult topic to
  • just express to a community.
  • And so I, I developed this kind of call to action to invite people
  • back to this beautifully blooming community
  • in the South and...
  • Cajun community.
  • Yeah, Lafayette, New Orleans, everywhere in the south,
  • Southern Louisiana in particular.
  • But it was heavily influenced by the knowledge
  • and appreciation that I have for my community that I learned
  • through this, through this film.
  • - I’m currently still in Houma. I'm working.
  • Lately what I've been doing, and I'm very proud of this.
  • You know, so I've been taking off work to come to screenings
  • and they're like, What are you doing? I'm like, Watch my trailer.
  • This is my trailer.
  • And they're like, It's only a minute. I'm like, Yeah, you got to come.
  • You got to come with me one day and watch it. They’re like, okay.
  • So my thing is, whatever I'm just
  • -- I don't know what we're doing next, but we're going to do something next.
  • But my thing is spreading what we already experienced to people around me.
  • So that's what I'm doing.
  • - Okay. I'm studying computer engineering and I want to go into research
  • on how to build tech more sustainably using materials
  • in a better way and increasing access to technology.
  • That's what I really want to do.
  • So I'm doing computer engineering and some international studies
  • with the concentration in environment and development.
  • So, I mean, I've wanted to be a computer engineer
  • since I was pretty young, but the film definitely
  • allowed me to create a space where I can think about our community
  • and still be myself and bring my experiences into my field.
  • - Yes.
  • - Oh, how so at all did it change the way that you feel about
  • where you're from [inaudible] growing up in different places,
  • but like how this shared common river and experiences [inaudible]?
  • - Oh okay. Being from Baton Rouge and you know, seeing the oil refineries,
  • it made me think about how Louisiana has a toxic relationship with oil.
  • And it's kind of like, you know, we need to value ourselves.
  • We need to value the culture we have that it's priceless.
  • Yeah, that made me think about how, you know, even though
  • we have this strong tie to oil, it's not benefiting us.
  • So yeah, time to change things.
  • - So I would say to enjoy
  • where you live and appreciate it because you never know what can happen,
  • but also to come together as a community and try to see what you can do.
  • Where as a whole, rather than have one person
  • try to do it all by themselves because that's not going to happen.
  • So staying together as a community and still enjoying where you live and
  • loving where you live.
  • - Honestly, like loving where you live, that's like the whole motivation behind
  • preserving Louisiana environment. It's like, that's the drive.
  • That wasn't my initial answer, but it's just like, I love where I live.
  • I want to preserve it.
  • I want everybody to come here and and celebrate with us.
  • But I think what I understand about my community,
  • I guess, in Lafayette, is I address it with
  • a critical eye, but also a patient eye.
  • Like understanding the truths about enslaved people in our history,
  • but also understanding you can't change history.
  • You can change the future, hopefully for the better.
  • - Yes.
  • - I have a question related to all the screenings.
  • Do the reactions differ in terms of the age of the audience, you know?
  • Like do older people respond differently to the movie than your peers?
  • Or were generally the reactions to it [inaudible]?
  • - I'm trying to think. I mean, I think it's kind of similar.
  • Y’all just say it in different ways
  • if that makes -- because we always get
  • Army Corps of Engineers questions and then yeah, it's pretty much.
  • - Yeah, I think there's a really good response.
  • Everyone is blown away in one way or another.
  • And I think that, you know, even though we're young and we're bringing
  • that perspective, I still think that it is able to reach everyone.
  • I think they can still find themselves.
  • Everyone can feel tied to our narrative to some degree. Yeah.
  • - Yeah, I think across all screenings we've been met with this
  • kind of reciprocation which before, before we premiered, it was like
  • a kind of a build up of nervousness, like how, how are people going to see me
  • when it's not about how are people going to see me?
  • It's about how are people going to see the subject as a whole?
  • And there's been like outstanding reciprocation of
  • what we're expressing.
  • - I still get nervous every time.
  • - Yeah, we have a survey and we'll send it to all of you,
  • but these guys haven't seen it.
  • But I can affirm that the surveys sort of echo what all of them are reporting.
  • - I heard, I think it's Miriam Cava has like very commonly
  • she's an abolitionist contemporary who says like hope is a choice.
  • And so I'm wondering
  • as you all are, you know, articulated at the end of the film,
  • like this is the world you're going to be inheriting.
  • And so what sort of where are you finding hope?
  • And what changes would you want to see that are working towards that preservation
  • you were talking about Annabelle?
  • And then, um, are there any efforts that you would want to highlight
  • particularly that are inspiring to you?
  • - I think in my own life, especially recently,
  • what kind of brings me hope is like reconnecting with my community.
  • I think whenever I moved away from Lafayette to Baton Rouge,
  • I kind of felt this need to like, run away from home and find myself.
  • Yeah, except like, the only thing I've realized is that I, I just,
  • I love the place that I'm from, and it is what gives me hope.
  • This is one example that, like, brings such a smile to my face.
  • This past summer I was back in Lafayette and I was living with my parents
  • and my dad invited me to a Cajun jam and I just sat on the sidelines.
  • I don't really know. I forgot how to Cajun dance.
  • Can't play any Cajun instruments, but just the opportunity to be
  • there and observe just like, filled my soul.
  • Yeah, everybody go to that.
  • - Okay.
  • Well, you said that hope is a choice.
  • I think it made me think about
  • just how the biggest problem we tend to face
  • is that people think it's impossible or that it's insurmountable of issues and
  • I think just thinking about how
  • in the same manner that, you know, decisions have resulted in
  • what we're faced now, in the same way, decisions
  • are the only thing that can, you know, counteract that.
  • It is a choice to to come together.
  • It is a choice to do what you can with what you have.
  • And it's a choice to talk about it. Have these these discussions.
  • I mean, what I really hope to see or I hope to change -- that I hope to
  • what changes I hope to see.
  • It's just that there's just so much of a taboo like period in talking about
  • the environment sometimes.
  • I want there to be more of a comfortability just so that, you know it's
  • so -- although the divisive,
  • the divisiveness that, you know, I want everyone to be able to see that
  • no matter where you are or where you're from, what you're
  • going through, who you are, it's all of our problem.
  • So, yeah, community. Yeah.
  • - My thing is that Miss Tammy, who was on there with us
  • -- I don't, I don't talk very well.
  • So she said that it’s going to be hard for us to stay a tribe.
  • And it brought back to mind on that down at Point-au-Chien
  • along the island road there are people who are refusing to leave.
  • So that gives me hope that,
  • you know, people may flee from Houma, flee from the bayou
  • but there's some of us
  • who still live there and who will not give up their home that easily.
  • So that's that's my hope to still being a tribe and keeping that language alive.
  • And hopefully one day I too learn it if I can master English first.
  • [Laughter].
  • - All right, let's have one last question.
  • - Oh, this might be more for Kira, but how did you choose Hollow Tree?
  • And like, what does that title mean to you?
  • - How did it -- well, I just wanted to say quickly to the other question
  • and then I'll answer that question that I think also learning is helpful.
  • Once you see something one way, you can't ever go back.
  • And I think together we demonstrated that.
  • Hollow Tree, I first saw hollow trees when I was making a short film many years ago,
  • and they were just so evocative as an image.
  • And the way that we learn in this film is by looking at our environment
  • together and noticing it and asking questions about it.
  • Why are the trees hollow? Why are there so many stumps?
  • Why is it flooding so often? Why is the land sinking?
  • Why are there potholes everywhere?
  • So the hollow tree is sort of a starting point.
  • Why is the tree hollow? And the answer reveals a lot about
  • the system of economic systems, of exploitation and control
  • that we're living under and that shape our natural and unnatural world and ourselves.
  • So it is one manifestation of that.
  • Do you want to add anything having written
  • lyrics about hollow tree and you spent a lot of time there?
  • - Yeah, let me think about it for a second.
  • I think I can speak on the lyrics in that earlier
  • I mentioned I tend to personify nature and I think in that last song
  • I was trying to express the nature of the tree itself.
  • How though its core is empty, its walls still stood strong
  • and so this kind of metaphorical heart still persevered.
  • Any other final meditations on the Hollow tree?
  • Or a hollow tree?
  • No, alright.
  • - Alright, we are going to have a reception for anyone who wants to continue
  • the conversation and be with everyone over in Newcomb Hall
  • and we’ll direct you there once we are closed.
  • Thank you all so much so deeply for making this film
  • and for being here tonight and bringing your voices to Tulane.
  • You're incredibly inspiring and generous, generous hearted.
  • And I appreciate the risk that you took to co-create this
  • and be your full selves on camera and here on campus.
  • And I look forward to seeing how your lives unfold
  • and how we continue living here together.
  • It's an honor to be here with you tonight.
  • - Thank you for having us.
  • - So let's give them a big round of applause.
  • [Applause].