Watching “My Louisiana Love” from America ReFramed on PBS

The 2012 documentary My Louisiana Love intertwines filmmaker Monique Verdin’s examination of her own indigenous culture in southern Louisiana, which is declining, with explanations of the forces that are working against it and the people working for it. Assisted by her husband and focusing on her dying father and elderly grandmother, Verdin shows how climate change, Hurricane Katrina, the BP oil spill, and other circumstances are destroying both the natural world and the lives of her people in the waterfront areas of Louisiana.

The southernmost portions of Louisiana are both delicate in terms of biodiversity and desirable in terms of commerce. This combination of factors means that the actions committed by businesses and corporations to ensure successful exploitation of the resources, like diverting water and drilling for oil, are also decimating the ecosystems that depend on the balance created by nature. Beyond that, the people who have lived within these areas for longer than the corporate interests have been exploiting them are now finding the old ways impossible to continue. Fishing and shrimping in water and sustenance farming on land that are tainted by petrochemicals lead to yields that are either insufficient or inedible. 

In My Louisiana Love, Verdin tells her the story within the larger battle of competing narratives. The oil and companies will say that their work contributes to American progress and prosperity. The locals will say that this same work is making it impossible to lead a decent and healthy life in the area. The interconnecting stories offered here show us the price of cheap gasoline as it is paid in the lives of real people. 

See more documentaries about the South in the On Screen section

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