explains the worldspin doctors can put a white hat on anyone, for one thingyou need a new mode of story-telling, one that’s deft and fast, as technical as it is poetic, as sociological as it is funny. Call this the Emulsified Story. Willie says the whole story has never been told oncetoo many plants, too many rivers to tell’ it all. Green comes close to being an Emulsified Story, but what comes closer are Willie Fontenot’s “toxic tours,” a road trip \(such as the one we take out hydrology, photography, former Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards, and toxicology, among other topics. In the small absurdities you see how the area is saturated with hazard.We drive by a manicured recreation area for employees at BASF; Willie points out that it’s built next to a hazardous waste dump. While driving next to rows of large tanks whose corporate logos have been hidden under paint, David points to two narrow pipes running parallel to the road. “What’s being transported in those pipes?” he asks. “Oh, I don’t know,” Willie deadpans, “Baby formula. Distilled water.” Because the plants required large pieces of real estate, the easiest corporate purchases were the fields of old plantations. Dunn spent $6,500 \(from the Texas Filmmaker Production freelance cameraman’ named Vance Holmes to shoot the weird proximities of this geography from the air. The footage takes the viewer along the banks of the Mississippi, over plan . tations and cane fieldsand directly over the chemical plants themselves, an illegal and dangerous bit of movie-making that helps Green’s arguments by association. As it turns out, the palette of industrial toxic wastes is often popsicle-gorgeous, full of lemons, oranges, and limes. The bristling refineries are stacked with plumes of steam and filigreed with fire. For people who live around these plants, such shots are powerful. Normally you’d only see the edge of a complex, towering over you; from the air, you see its massive spread. “This is evidence,” says J. Timmons Roberts, an environmental sociologist at Tulane. “It’s gut evidence. It’s filmmaker evidence. It might not be a sociologist’s evidence, though.” After our afternoon jaunt, Dunn decides to stop in to see Amos Favorite, a legendary environmental activist in the region. He lives off Highway 61, in a small brick house with a carport and a Cadillac parked in the front yard next to a small vegetable garden.Amos’s son comes to the door. He tells Willie and Laura that Amos, who fought hard to have trucks carrying hazardous waste banned from Highway 61, isn’t the man they remembered. He’s lost a leg to diabetes and is heavily sedated. Laura leaves a video for him, then we head back to Baton Rouge. For the rest of the day, Laura is subdued.The emotional universe of the film, which has started to look like the universe of her life, feels emptier. “He’s like one of the best people I ever met, my whole life,” she says. That night in the Iberville Parish public library in Plaquemines, six people show up. With so many empty seats in the large room, Green seems easy to abandon. After last night’s screening at the LSU campus, where nearly 200 peo ple came, Dunn, Fontenot and Carroll are disappointed with the turnout. \(Tomorrow in Gonzales, there will be 30 people, g a representative from liarris Deville, a public rela *vists, neighbors, workers in chem s, interested folks. All of them ead of the Louisiana Department l ity, ity, and Kevin Reilly, head of the velopment, say that any abnormally er in Louisiana is due to spicy food. :1410qingly. when Duke King, a worker at he ‘cal company, compares company with a traffic speeder turning Dickson, a cancer survivor, telling 0404 h ave: changed her life. Later in the movie, en and how he stopped when the EPA discov ered what vegetables he used to grow in his ered tOxins in the soil. “Especially after we lost the child,” he adds, referring to his 16-year-old daughter, who died of non Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Such stories provide an opening for oth ers to tell theirs, too. After the Gonzales screening, a woman ielates,hOw she and her feinale friends counted up their miscar lages, a number they found frighteningly high; all of them lived ar a plant or had fathers or spouses who worked in them.
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The documentary in Falfurrias is sinister and spiritual.