The eighth annual PATOIS Film Festival opens tonight with a short film made by the Al Jazeera international television news network that profiles the response of a number of New Orleans and Gulf Coast activists, organizers, and community leaders to the BP Drilling Disaster. The film, called In Deep Water: A Way of Life In Peril, also features Aaron Viles of Gulf Restoration Network, Monique Harden of Advocates for Environmental Human Rights, Byron Encalade of the Louisiana Oystermen Association, Debra Ramirez of the Mossville Environmental Action Network, and many others. The film is showing with the Sundance hit Hot Coffee, a film about the legendary "McDonald's coffee case" and the ways in which propaganda about the case has been used to protect corporate interests.
The festival runs for five days and features 22 New Orleans premieres, plus live music, food, art, Q&A's with filmmakers from around the world, and discussions with special guests. Among other highlights are: Land of the Free, about the former New Orleans Black Panthers who became known as the Angola Three; Better This World, about the actions of Common Ground co-founder and FBI informant Brandon Darby; 40, a fiction film starring Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine, who is best known to local audiences as the sous chef character on the tv show Treme; Egypt: Seeds of Change, about the behind the scenes planning that created the Egyptian revolution, and Black August, a film that blends stunning concert footage of some of our era's best conscious hip-hop artists with exclusive interviews with legendary activists like former Black Panthers Assata Shakur and Kathleen Cleaver. More information can be found at patoisfilmfest.org.