LIFE to premiere documentary chronicling August 2016 flood

Source: Louisiana International Film Festival
Source: Louisiana International Film Festival

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The Louisiana International Film Festival will feature the world premiere of "1000 Year Flood," a documentary film chronicling the struggle of residents in the Baton Rouge area during and after the August 2016 flood, on April 20.

Filmmakers Lauren Durr and Dane Moreton were working on a true crime television show in New Orleans at the time of the August 2016 flood. Both have 30 years of combined experience in the television industry.

Durr, who directed the documentary, is a Baton Rouge native and graduate of Episcopal High School.

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She recruited the film's producer, Dane Moreton, to help clean up her grandfather's Sherwood Forrest house after it was inundated with six feet of flood waters.

Durr said the house that she grew up in, just two blocks away, also flooded.

Moreton, who is a native of Tupelo, Mississippi, has also experienced the pain of a natural disaster on the Gulf Coast. His mother's home near Biloxi was devastated during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The two began to work on the film when they felt the severe effects of the August 2016 flood on the Baton Rouge area was not getting the national media attention it deserved.

"We started filming about a month-and-a-half after the flood, when we saw there was a need for some attention," said Durr. "You know, this story really didn't get a ton of national attention. And so, we started shooting the film."

The two filmmakers "scoured" Facebook and YouTube for first-hand footage of the flood.

"We reached out to them and collected a great deal of footage from the community, which is really incredible because it's these first-hand accounts," Durr added.

"We also found that people were happy to share this with us because they knew the national media attention was lacking," said Moreton. "So, to be able to offer up any kind of first-hand video to show just how bad it was in the hopes that it would share that story."

Durr said she and Morton were inspired to make the documentary film because of their first-hand connection to the devastation.

"It was more than just hearing about it. We were involved in it and immersed it and feeling really compelled to get the story out to the rest of the country.

The film features interviews with members of the Cajun Navy, which helped rescue residents during the flood, and the Cajun Army, which helped residents rebuild after the flood.

Durr and Moreton also interviewed Congressman Garret Graves, who urged Congress to provide federal relief to residents during and after the flood.

The filmmakers say they were in regular communications with Governor John Bel Edwards' office but were unable to record an interview with him due to his busy schedule.

Durr and Moreton worked on the documentary for more than a year. Moreton described the film as a slice of the first year after the flood of August 2016. The filmmakers followed flood victims at various points in the year such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the one-year anniversary of the flood.

When asked about what the filmmakers wanted residents to take away from the film, Durr said:

"I want people to be encouraged. To know that their story has been told and they're not forgotten. And to watch these folks that started just as regular members of the community and started organizations that have now helped tens of thousands of people."

"You can make a difference in the community and we can all do this together," Durr added.

Moreton explained that they wanted viewers around the U.S. and around the world to understand the severe impacts of natural disasters.

"Another that I think is important for people to take away who are not in Louisiana, is that the response is not as quick as response as people would like it to be. And you have people who are waiting on funds or waiting on FEMA or other federal funds to come and help them. They think it's going to be quick and it's not. And I think when people understand that they need to count on themselves, they need to find strength in their communities more so than the federal government."

"Whether your stuff is burnt up or flooded out, it's really the same process for people," Durr explained.

"Once the water leaves, you know, so does the media, and everybody thinks, 'Oh well, it's okay. They cleaned it up and everything is better.' But it's really not the case. We can do better, our government can do better, and our community can do better for itself."

Durr admitted that some people who were deeply affected by the flood might not want to see the film.

"Everybody individually is going to know is ready to see these images again and some people are not ready and that's ok. But we want to make sure that we get this film out to our community so they are not forgotten. And we're going to take this film as far as we can so that everyone in the country knows what happened here, so that we can make a change for disaster victims in the future."
"This is not just about Louisiana, this is not just about Hurricanes in Houston, or storms in New Jersey. This is about any disaster in America that people think they're going to be prepared for or don't give enough thought to be prepared," Moreton added.

The first world premiere screening of "1000 Year Flood" at Cinemark Theaters in Perkins Rowe has already sold out. But Cinemark will screen the documentary film at a second theater and tickets are still available. Click here for information about tickets to the screening.

Durr and Moreton will host a question and answer session for audience members after both theaters screen the film.

Both are very excited for the opportunity to premiere the film at a film festival in Baton Rouge.

"We're ready to give this back to the people. This is their story and we've been hanging on to it for a while now," Durr said.

"We think its very fortuitous that we're able this as a world premiere in Baton Rouge for the community. So the first people who see the story are the people who lived the story," Moreton said.

After it's premiere, the two filmmakers plan to showcase the documentary film at the International Christian Film and Music Festival in Orlando, Florida, and the Worldfest International Film Festival in Houston, Texas.

The world premiere of "1000 Year Flood" is scheduled for 6:15 p.m. on Friday, April 20 at Cinemark Theaters in Perkins Rowe during the Louisiana International Film Festival. It will also be shown on Sunday at 11:45 a.m. in Perkins Rowe.

The Louisiana International Film Festival beings on Thursday, April 19 and runs through Sunday, April 22.

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