*** out of ****
Local history buffs will want to check out David Dubos’ Delta Justice: The Islenos Trappers War, playing at 7 pm on Saturday and Tuesday at the film fest and 5 pm on Sunday. All showings are at Chalmette Movies.
The 47-minute documentary tells the story of a little-known conflict between fur trappers (the Islenos) and local political bigwig Leander Perez (the original namesake for Judge Perez Dr.). Trappers did extraordinarily well for themselves in the 1920s. Perez, who had money and a more formal education, sought to swindle them out of the land. The courts initially sided with him, but the trappers fought back - literally. Perez hired muscle to try and intimidate the trappers. Eventually, one of Perez’s men was killed.
The central story is compelling and the film also encompasses the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, which devastated St. Bernard Parish. It features an epilogue about the coastal erosion and high insurance rates plaguing areas outside levee protection like the now nearly deserted Delacroix Island. Perez, like most rich men, landed on his feet. One of the film’s more darkly amusing moments is watching real footage of Perez being interviewed by William F. Buckley. At one point, Buckley tells the unapologetically racist Perez “Your ignorance is staggering.”
Delta Justice makes for an engrossing history lesson. It’s informative without being too dry or academic.