Archive for September, 2014
The movie, We Won’t Bow Down, was shot over eight years by first time director Christopher Leroy Bower. A native of Ashville, North Carolina, Bower began conducting interviews right after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in September 2005. He learned about Mardi Gras Indian culture from Steve Mann, who co-produced and photographed We Won’t Bow Down.
Bower first saw Mardi Gras Indians on the first St Joseph’s Day after Katrina and was very impressed with the beauty, resilience and power of this New Orleans-only Carnival tradition. He ran into the Spirit of Fi-Yi-Yi and Victor Harris, who was singing Calling All My People, a prayer. He found it a chilling experience which he couldn’t forget.
He wanted the Indians to tell their own story without any narration or Indian ‘experts’ to dilute their message.
I work with some Mardi Gras indians and have recently put together Indian funk bands in New Orleans such as the Spy Boy All-Stars featuring June Victory and June Squared with June Yamagishi.They have played the Maple Leaf Bar, Tipitina’s, and Chickie Wah Wah among other major Crescent City venues. I too find the Indian culture very unique and beautiful. I’ve written some Indians up on my Mardi Gras Music Series, here’s a couple of links for the Wild Magnolias and June Victory and the Bayou Renegades, appearing next Thursday from 6 to 8 pm at the Ogden Museum, 925 Camp Street as part of their Ogden After Hours Music series.
Around the nation, audiences have been enthralled by the documentary. The crowd was enthusiastic at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles, where the movie had its world premiere. We took some of the guys from the Ninth Ward Hunters and the Comanche Hunters to perform in Los Angeles, Bower said. They did a procession through the Crenshaw Mall, and to just release that on people randomly and to see the response, that was amazing. People were coming from the parking garage, the balconies, little kids were dancing. There was a connection that defies intellectual understanding. It was just in the spirit of what was happening.
Actor, producer and community activist Wendell Pierce saw the doc in Los Angeles and is now a major proponent of the film. His Pontchartrain Park Neighborhood Association is involved in the April 12 New Orleans premiere at the National WWII Museum.
We Won’t Be Bowed Down
National WWII Museum
Solomon Victory Theatre
Red Carpet Screening 7:15 pm
General Screening 9:15 pm
The public relations problem first became apparent when T-shirt-wearing members were accosted in public, according to one OOI member.
One member was harassed at Sam’s Club, she said. She had a gentleman come up to her, asking a lot of questions … and she said we are a Mardi Gras organization, the OOI member recounted. He didn’t understand us having ‘Isis’ on our clothing.
Another member who works in a doctor’s office also got attention for her shirt, the member said.
As we all know know, ISIS is the name of a middle eastern terrorist group that our military is fighting on a daily basis.
This just shows how current world events can impact a innocent Mobile, AL Mardi Gras Krewe in a serious manner.
One of Mobile’s newest parading groups, a ladies’ organization, the Order of Isis was formed in 2008, held its first ball in 2009, and staged its first parade in 2010. They have 115 members. Henceforth they will be known as OOI.
When OOI was formed, the name was chosen because we were founded on friendship, and Isis is the goddess of friendship and love, the OOI member said.
We’re just hoping that we can be OOI for a couple of years until all of this dies down, and then we can go back to our original name, she said.
The decision was also difficult because the group had already ordered throws and T-shirts this year, an OOI board member said. Some cups, footballs and koozies have already been printed, but there may be time to change other orders, she said.