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Audubon Nature Institute to Premiere Hurricane

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Written by: Audubon Nature Institute
Date: August 3, 2006

  

Category: Press Releases

Audubon Nature Institute to Premiere "Hurricane on the Bayou" at Entergy IMAX® Theatre Tuesday, August 29, 2006

(NEW ORLEANS – August 3, 2006) – Audubon Nature Institute will premier its first-ever IMAX® film production, HURRICANE ON THE BAYOU to the public on Tuesday, August 29, 2006 at 12 Noon at Entergy IMAX® Theatre. This powerful film, produced and distributed by two-time Academy Award-nominated filmmakers MacGillivray Freeman Films (Everest, Coral Reef Adventure) and executive produced by Audubon Nature Institute with funding from the State of Louisiana and in association with MacGillivray Freeman Films Educational Foundation, depicts the story of the impact that Louisiana's disappearing wetlands has on storm protection. This dramatic tale of nature's fury will be released to coincide with the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the biggest natural disaster in American history.

Hurricane on the Bayou carries audiences behind today's news headlines on a journey deep into the soul-stirring heart of Louisiana. Filmed before and after the unprecedented devastation of Hurricane Katrina and featuring state-of-the-art computer generated effects depicting the height of the storm's fury, the film brings into focus the startling loss of Louisiana's rapidly disappearing coastal wetlands – New Orleans' first line of defense against deadly storms. Tragically, these wetlands are eroding into the sea at the speed of one acre every thirty minutes, or in other words, enough land to form the island of Manhattan ever year.

Narrated by Academy Award-winning actress Meryl Streep, the film stars legendary New Orleans music producer, songwriter and Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Allen Toussaint (his classic songs include "Working in a Coal Mine" and the Dr. John hit "Right Place, Wrong Time"), Blues singer and guitarist and long-time wetlands activist Tab Benoit; 14-year-old fiddling prodigy Amanda Shaw; and Zydeco accordion master Chubby Carrier.  Also appearing in the film is Marva Wright, the Queen of Gospel. Through their eyes the tragedy the city faced during Katrina and its burning hopes for a revitalized future unfold.

The story behind the making of Hurricane on the Bayou is equally dramatic. In late August 2005, as Audubon Nature Institute and MacGillivray Freeman Films teams were finishing the film – originally conceived as a cautionary tale about Louisiana's disappearing wetlands and what could happen if a major hypothetical hurricane hit New Orleans – Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. The film's production simulated an apocalyptic hurricane, complete with actors playing flooded homeowners bursting through rooftops to get to safety. The cautionary tale quickly turned into raw reality.

After the devastation became apparent, Audubon and MacGillivray Freeman executives made a decision to do what most filmmakers consider the unthinkable: radically change their film. Within days ground and aerial crews were dispatched to New Orleans to record with the giant IMAX® cameras Katrina's aftermath. The crew actually borrowed a helicopter from the Miami Vice set in Florida with authentic looking police logos allowing the crew to film off-limit locations.

The re-edited, final version of Hurricane on the Bayou is an emotional giant screen document of Katrina's powerful effects, with a profound musical celebration of a city that has been called the "soul of America," and a compelling call to restore New Orleans and the vital wetlands from which the city's unique identity first arose.

"Ultimately, nothing can shake the spirit of the people of New Orleans.  Our city is already recovering, as it has from previous hurricanes many times in its long history," says Audubon President and CEO Ron Forman. "New Orleans WILL endure as one of the world's greatest cities and Audubon is committed to helping ensure its future.  We will continue to educate people about the need to restore our wetlands as a key defense against any hurricanes to come."

"The final film has come to be about something more than just the treasure that is New Orleans; and more than just the urgency of solving the wetlands crisis," says Aquarium Managing Director Karyn Noles Bewley.  "It's really about the human spirit – about our ability to overcome tragedy in our lives and to commit to saving things that are truly worth saving."

Hurricane on the Bayou will also open in Los Angeles at the California Science Center IMAX Theatre on September 8, followed by a release to worldwide IMAX Theatres and giant screen cinemas on December 22.

For more information about Audubon Nature Institute, its attractions and recovery efforts, visit www.auduboninstitute.org.

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