Description by FilmIsNow: On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico. It killed 11 workers and caused the worst oil spill in American history. The explosion still haunts the lives of those most intimately affected, though the story has long ago faded from the front page. A fascinating corporate thriller, a heartbreaking human drama, and a peek inside the walls of the secretive oil industry, “The Great Invisible” examines the crisis through the eyes of oil executives, survivors and Gulf Coast residents who experienced it first-hand and then were left to pick up the pieces.
NWNL Comment: Following two NWNL expeditions to the Gulf in 2011 and 2014, it is clear that much of the damage caused by the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, its coastline and the Mississippi River Delta has yet to be resolved. This film explores coastal communities still suffering from the loss of loved ones and damaged fisheries that provided their livelihood. The film also gets inside the minds of those in the oil and gas industry who should be addressing damages and the need for more safety measures. A second film like this also needs to be made about local residents’ on-going health issues from breathing the dispersants used by BP – another issue not properly addressed.
Vanishing Island by Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee, 2014 (9:03).
In Louisiana, Rising Seas Threaten Native Americans’ Land by PBS NewsHour, 2012 (9:06).
NWNL Comment: Isle de Jean Charles is disappearing into Terrebonne Bay. Subsidence is one of the factors shrinking and flooding the island and its 1-mile causeway. This is because sediment flow, that formerly replenished land in the bay, is now stopped by upstream dams on the Mississippi River; the river has been channelized so there’s no natural erosion of river banks; upstream farmers’ topsoil mostly stays in the fields now due to new agricultural “better practices”; and canals built by oil and gas companies have changed the hydrology of coastal Louisiana.
Other factors threatening the existence of this island include rising sea levels due to climate change and possible underground/underwater shifts due to removal of oil and gas reserves.
The island, formerly 5 miles wide and 11 miles long with 300 homes, is now just 1/4 mile wide and 2 miles long with only 25 homes. The Native Americans remaining on the island can no longer rely on their self-sustaining culture of raising pigs and cattle, fishing, hunting and farming. The soil is too saline for gardening, the trees have died, there’s no land for livestock, and fisheries are dwindling due to increased salinity, pollution and the BP oil spill.
Both these videos have been recommended by the Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper and LEAN (Louisiana Environmental Action Network). These are two of the many stewardship organizations interviewed by NWNL before and after visiting Isle de Jean Charles during our month-long Lower Mississippi River Basin Expedition in September 2014.
NWNL Comment: This video explains the “balance-of-nature“ phenomenon scientists call a “trophic cascade.” NWNL also documented this on our Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem Expedition in 2008. When wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park, it had a very beneficial impact on the ecosystem and on water flows. Although the video mislabels the elk as “deer”, its message is relevant.
The influence of just a small group of wolves on river systems is as magical as the cry of the wolf itself. For a sense of being on the Yellowstone River in the Missouri-Mississippi headwaters, do look at our Yellowstone Species photo gallery.
Description by J & R Tickell: The Big Fix is a full-length film that reveals the powerful political and corporate system that put profits over the health and long?term sustainability of people and the environment. No Matter what the petroleum and government officials say, the oil is still coming ashore, the seafood industry is wiped out, and many people of the locals are sick.
NWNL Comment: The Earth Day 2010 BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico affected the lower Mississippi River, its Delta and the Atchafalaya Basin. This “Festival de Cannes” official selection, directed by Tim Robbins, reveals disturbing facts by mixing daring infrared video and carefully researched investigation and interviews. NWNL viewed the full movie in NYC, two months after a NWNL team finished a 2-week expedition in the Atchafalaya Basin. Much of what is revealed in the film was also captured in our NWNL interviews of Louisiana scientists and stakeholders.
SoLa: Louisiana Water Stories by Jon Bowermaster, 2010 (60 mins).
Description by Jon Bowermaster: Everywhere you look in Southern Louisiana there’s water – rivers, bayous, swamps, the Mississippi River, the Gulf of Mexico. And everyone in Cajun Country has a water story, or two or three or more. Its waterways support the biggest economies in Louisiana – a $63 billion a year oil and gas industry, a $200 million a year fishing business, tourism and recreational sports.
They are also home to some insidious polluters: The same oil and gas industry, 200 petrochemical plants along a 100-mile-long stretch of the Mississippi known “Cancer Alley,” the world’s largest Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico and erosion that is costing the coastline twenty five square miles of wetlands a year. At the same time SoLa is home to one of America’s most vital and unique cultures; if everyone who lives there has a water story they can also most likely play the fiddle, waltz, cook an etouffe and hunt and fish.
NWNL Comment: This full-length film (which can be seen online with the disruption of some ads) documents the same issues and interviews some of the stakeholders as did NWNL during its 2011 Atchafalaya – Mississippi Delta expedition, This rich and diverse ecosystem is at a tipping point due to development, deforestation, channelizing levee systems, natural gas canals disrupting the natural flow of waterways, climate disruption’s fierce storms, erosion and pollution…. These threats to the existence of this ecosystem need to be recognized and addressed in order to protect the Lower Mississippi Basin from storm destruction. “It’s not Louisiana’s problem – it’s the Nation’s problem.”
Troubled Waters: A Mississippi River Story by Larkin McPhee, 2010 (56:44).
Description by Larkin McPhee: “Troubled Waters: A Mississippi River Story” is a film about the “unintended consequences” of farming practices on water quality, soil loss and the “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico, an oxygen-deprived area where fish and shrimp cannot survive. Excess nitrogen, phosphorous and fertilizers essential to the growth of plants are contaminating the nation’s rivers, lakes and aquifers at the same time as precious soils wash away. The film features concerned farmers, scientists and citizens who are seeking solutions that will help meet the goals of an ambitious, food-producing nation while ensuring the long-term health and sustainability of its most precious natural resources.
NWNL Comment: This public television documentary features the pioneering research of Nancy Rabalais, (Ph.D., Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium) on the severe oxygen depletion in the Gulf of Mexico due to the nutrient runoff from the vast farming in the Mississippi River Basin. In 2000 she led a scientific assessment of 6 teams connecting the dynamics of the low oxygen area in Gulf - the largest dead zone affecting the United States and second largest worldwide – to upstream agricultural fertilizers and pesticides
Description by Texas Parks Wildlife: In a few years, the Bois d’Arc Creek in Fannin County will be replaced by the Lower Bois d’Arc Reservoir. What was once bottomland hardwood forest will become a 17,000 acre water supply project. Brothers Russell and William Graves are teaming up to produce a film about growing up along the Bois d’Arc and what the loss of this valuable habitat means to those that have a history with the land. For more on the documentary, see www.russellgraves.com.
NWNL Comment: This creek, a tributary of the Texas Red River which flows to Louisiana Atchafalaya River, is threatened by a dam proposal. The documentary is made by two residents in a way that could change minds in the future.