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Special Screenings: Hurricane on the Bayou at IMAX

6/9/2010 5:33:29 PM

Amanda Shaw and Tab Benoit explore Louisiana's Bayous aboard an airboat.

Musicians Amanda Shaw and Tab Benoit exploring Louisiana’s wetlands aboard an airboat in Hurricane on the Bayou.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                    Contact: Thom Benson 423-785-3007

Special Screenings of Hurricane on the Bayou at IMAX June 16-19
Cajun Blues Musician Tab Benoit Working to Save Wetlands

Chattanooga, Tenn. (June 9, 2010) – There is inspiring beauty within the dynamic habitat that hugs the Louisiana coastline. Audiences will gain a deeper appreciation for the abundant life within these wetlands when Hurricane on the Bayou is shown on the six-story screen at the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX Theater June 16 to 19.

A powerfully moving giant screen film unlike any other, MacGillivray Freeman’s Hurricane on the Bayou carries audiences behind today’s news headlines on a journey deep into the soul-stirring heart of Louisiana — before, during and after the unprecedented devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Unfolding against the poignant backdrop of the most costly natural disaster in America’s history, the film follows Cajun blues artist Tab Benoit and a group of three other musicians as they uncover the electrifying culture of New Orleans; explore the beautiful, alligator-filled bayous on airboats; recount their personal stories of Katrina; and most of all, bring the focus to the rapidly disappearing wetlands that are New Orleans’ first line of defense against deadly storms. Although these wetlands are vanishing at the astonishing rate of one acre every 30 minutes, the wealth, cultural vitality and very future of New Orleans depend on their preservation. Audiences will take a virtual tour of the scenic, yet fragile, ecosystem that’s now being threatened by oil.

Tab Benoit will bring his wetlands conservation message to Chattanooga’s biggest music festival. This talented artist will perform his brand of sizzlin’ Cajun music during “The Bend Unplugged” at 2:00 pm on June 16 at the IMAX 3D Theater and on the Unum Stage at Riverbend later that same evening. The artist will interact with audience members after the film, a rare opportunity to enjoy some toe-tappin’ live music with a timely environmental message. “We are thrilled that Tab will help launch this special run of Hurricane on the Bayou at IMAX,” said Cindy Todd, the Tennessee Aquarium’s marketing director. “Tab’s music is as spirited as his efforts to protect the bayous of Louisiana. This is a film that everyone should see to truly appreciate what wetlands mean to all of us.”

Tab Benoit’s guitar and vocals captured the attention of two-time Academy Award-nominated director Greg MacGillivray in 2005 when he began filming Hurricane on the Bayou. MacGillivray intended to produce a film that would alert people to the destruction of Louisiana’s vital wetlands and how a hurricane could lead to a massive flood in New Orleans. “We set out originally to tell the story of a future, hypothetical hurricane and how the rapid erosion of the wetlands left New Orleans more vulnerable to flooding,” says Greg MacGillivray, “but when Katrina struck in the middle of doing that, we were no longer filming what might happen, we were suddenly more like news reporters filming what did happen. We had to completely rethink the film, which evolved into a much broader and more deeply emotional story than we ever imagined. We realized we had a unique ability to capture footage of how Katrina impacted New Orleans with the tremendous sense of scale that IMAX theater photography brings with it—and to tell this story in a way that captures the humanity of it, the essential role of the wetlands environment and the undeniable, musical magic of the city all at once. The footage is unlike any other footage that has been seen.”

Tab Benoit uses his bluesy electric guitar to celebrate his love for the Louisiana Bayou, and along the way, he raises awareness for the wetlands that help protect places like New Orleans. This musician turned activist co-founded “Voice of the Wetlands” in 2003, an organization dedicated to the preservation of endangered Mississippi Delta wetlands. According to Benoit’s official website, the artist was always seeking a way to reach people beyond his vocals and riffs. "Being able to have a forum because of the music is incredible," Benoit said. "When I made a decision to do this, I told myself it has to be for a bigger reason. All I really want out of life is to make the world a little bit better than the day I was born and the Voice of the Wetlands is a way to do that."

According to an interview with MacGillivray Freeman Films, Benoit’s music may be the only one that flows directly from the swampland. “I write out in the swamps, I get my inspiration there, I get my sounds and feelings from there – so from my point of view, there is a deep connection between the land and the music and that’s something you get to see in the film,” Benoit said. “The Louisiana Delta is one of the richest resources on our planet – and it’s at the very root of New Orleans culture.  If we lose the root, the tree is going to die.”

Benoit helped organize the Gulf Aid concert last month.  The all-star slate of performers raised funds to benefit fishing families and restore wetlands in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

Hurricane on the Bayou Showtimes: 2:00 pm and 6:00 pm Wednesday, June 16th through Saturday, June 19th.


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