Iron Sharpens Iron is a new documentary highlighting a Plaquemines Parish community's struggles against racial segregation, economic injustice, and extreme weather. It will premiere on June 8 at The Broad Theater in Mid-City.
The 27-minute film was directed by independent local filmmaker John Richie (Shell Shocked, 91%) and produced by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities. It is a part of the LEH initiative "Coastal Impacts: An Integrated Approach for Community Adaptation, Understanding, and Planning," which assists local communities in building intergenerational coastal literacy through community conversations around books, films, and exhibitions fostering greater understanding of and support for coastal restoration projects.
The film documents Ironton's fight against the development of the Plaquemines Liquids Terminal atop land that includes their ancestral burial grounds. The community also suffered devastation from Hurricane Ida, which sent 12-15 feet of water into the area.
Ironton's history can be traced back to emancipation. Its community founders were enslaved at the nearby St. Rosalie Plantation. Many of their descendants have remained in the area.
"Iron Sharpens Iron is important because this is not only happening in Ironton," Richie said. "African-American communities up and down the Mississippi are trying to protect their ancestral burial grounds from development from the oil and gas industry. If we cannot guarantee the sanctity of every community's burial ground, then what does that say about the basic decency of all of us? We need everyone to care about this issue."
The Broad's screening will be followed by a conversation with Richie and environmental activist Sharon Lavigne. All proceeds from the screening will benefit the community of Ironton. Tickets are $12 and can be purchased at TheBroadTheater.com.