At last! Come Hell or High Water will air tonight on WORLD Channel’s series America Reframed (8 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. CT / 5 p.m. PT). The broadcast will be followed by a half-hour discussion between series host Natasha Del Toro, Derrick Evans and journalist Brentin Mock. The simulcast Online Premiere and Live Chat will begin at the same time.
Leading up to the big day, Come Hell or High Water screenings were hosted by organizations addressing environmental justice issues in California and on the Gulf Coast. Also, I attended the orientation for the American Film Showcase, a cultural diplomacy program of the State Department that will bring the film to countries where independent mediamakers are struggling to address social issues.
Derrick Evans of Turkey Creek attended the regional Justice Leadership Summit in Mobile, Ala., hosted by the Center for Fair Housing, where in addition to a screening there was a workshop on “Using Film and Media for Social Change” coordinated by Bridge the Gulf, Crescent City Media Group and Working Films/Reel Power. Participants at the Gulf Coast gathering recorded a message that was shared the same day in Long Beach, Calif., where the film was being shown by East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice. The video featured people from Gulfport, New Orleans, Pensacola, Prichard, Mobile and Moss Point acknowledging threats to health and safety shared with communities in Los Angeles and saying, “We’re with you!”
Outside the Art Theatre in Long Beach, people were invited to contribute to the KCET Departures project, which promotes public dialogue on the largest infrastructure project in the country, the I-710 Corridor. The 710 connects the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles to the 60 Freeway, and its impact on public health has been an important focus for East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice. The highway was once called the Los Angeles River Freeway and runs 18 miles along the length of the river, through communities that have asthma and cancer rates that are far higher than the national average, according to the California Air Resources Board.
Later in the week I attended the orientation for the American Film Showcase (AFS), a program supported by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and coordinated by the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts. Come Hell or High Water will be part of this program, which will bring independent films and film envoys to 34 countries this year. AFS quotes Nelson Mandela as saying, “Films are a powerful tool for fostering understanding and tolerance in the world.”
It was a thrill to hear stories from around the globe from veteran film envoys, including Marilyn Agrelo (Mad Hot Ballroom) and Anne Makepeace (We Still Live Here) and to meet Dawn Porter (Gideon’s Army) and other filmmakers participating this year.
Tonight viewers can find the America Reframed broadcast of Come Hell or High Water on a local public TV station or join the live chat. Mississippi Public Broadcasting will air the documentary locally on April 30, and the film will stream nationally on PBS Video April 30–May 29.