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“A profoundly important documentary.”
Paul Haggis, Writer/Director (Million Dollar Baby/Crash)

“A powerful and important look at politics at the local level.”
Oliver Stone, Director (World Trade Center, JFK, Platoon)

“You've embraced chaos . . . the true human experience . . . and come out with a terrific human story.”
Michael Radford, Director (Il Postino, The Merchant of Venice)

“I'm still reeling from the showing of the film and have been speaking about the important work all over the country.”
Susan Taylor, Editorial Director, Essence Magazine

“I was glued the whole time. Everyone should see this film.
"Its the kind of movie the Academy would be interested in.”

Alan Beattie Documentary Filmmaker – twice nominated for Academy Awards

“The story that Morelli, Berry and Cooker told was astonishing...”
New Orleans Magazine

“After covering the New Orleans Parish Board for 20 years, I thought I knew everything. And this documentary showed me a whole bunch I didn’t have clue on. So I, for one, thank you . . . . Because, I guarantee, when you watch the documentary, these kids will break your heart.”
--Garland Robinette, WWL-AM radio, New Orleans.

”Ya’ll got some balls, man, that’s all Ima say. Ya’ll got balls. Much Respect.
NOPS student – McDonough High School

Left Behind is a 90-minute documentary that tells the story of three African-American high school seniors as they navigate through their final year of high school. Their final year in one of the poorest cities in the state; in a state ranked as the poorest in America; in one of the most violent cities, states and countries in the industrialized world.

The film, shot before, during and after Hurricane Katrina, shows how an uneducated impoverished population reacts under the stress. Our never-before-seen Katrina footage highlights our two-year-long documentary. We show reasons for the looting, rape, murder and mayhem -- the effects our man-made environment has on human behavior. We examine the core of our American values, the framework by which we live, and we show how our most vaunted beliefs and government policies have played a role in our nation's shame.

Interviews with Noam Chomsky, Jessie Jackson, Ice T, Congressmen William Jefferson and Maxine Waters, author Michael Eric Dyson, Jim Derleth (US AID Specialist in development and conflict resolution assigned to East and West Africa) and others accent our narrative.

Our core story follows three students from August 2004 to June 2005. From the state-mandated LEAP test to Mardi Gras marching bands. From birthdays to basketball practice. From family functions to random shootings to school riots. We see New Orleans and the New Orleans public schools in their entirety. We hear our protagonist's hopes and dreams and aspirations as we pan the "mean streets" that surround them. The visuals are enough to make us feel uneasy . . . to make us fear the fate that awaits them. "What happens to us all when a dream is deferred?"

Yet there is also a feeling of hope, the hope of the young, as infectious as it is potentially heart-breaking. We hope for Mario, Jonathan and Joshua . . . and, in doing so, we hope for ourselves.

As the film unfolds, we are confronted with the various problems that contribute to the current state of affairs in the school system. Race, violence, poverty, dysfunctional families, politics -- and we begin to form the question: How did we get this way? How did we allow this to happen to our families, our schools, our cities, our very society? How did we allow ourselves to leave so many children behind?

At first blush, the answer is a historical one, for New Orleans is a city steeped in history. A history of racism and class and corruption; a history of slave trade and king cotton and Baton Rouge kleptocracies. A history where "who you know" has always been more important than merit. Certainly there is enough in our history to give us our answer. But this is the easy way out, and as we delve deeper we find that our answers lie with in our culture. It lies within the political/social environment in which we live. In this film we confront problems that gnaw, not just at the core of New Orleans, but at the core of America.

Executive Producer
Bobby Moresco

Music by
Rolfe Kent

Titles by
Al Quattrocchi

Still Photography by
Charlie Varley
Michelle Elmore

Sound by
Jamie Santos

Story Contributions by
Jason Berry
Brian Thevenot
Bobby Moresco
Jeremy Cooker
Harvey Rosenstock

Research by
Brian Thevenot
Lori Jahnke
Myriam Huet
Dr. James Derleth US Government, Conflict resolution specialist, Afican Portfolio

Directed by
Vincent Morelli and Jason Berry

Written, Edited, Produced by
Vincent Morelli

MedArt Productions LLC

Special Thanks:
Vanessa Neiman, the blogging community of New Orleans, and Niels Mueler.

Announcing a new film by Vincent Morelli

The film, Conversations with Artists, is set in New Orleans but reflects artists the world over: this is Bohemia 2009. This uncensored 80-minute documentary follows six struggling artists -- a painter, an architect, a street magician, an installation artist, an exotic dancer turned performer, and an ex-con ink pen artist -- through a year of living on the edge. The film shows their struggles for survival, their searches for love and meaning and their attempts to live life to the fullest. We follow our six through trials, tribulations, triumphs and total failures. Through prison, eviction, financial ruin, creative success, standing ovations and totally unexpected and amazing personal transformations. The film's executive producer is Bobby Moresco (writer/producer of the Academy-Award Winning film Crash) and is written and directed by Vincent Morelli, writer/director of the critically acclaimed, Left Behind: The Story of the New Orleans Public Schools.

 

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