Come Hell or High Water: The Battle for Turkey Creek (Fall 2013)

  • Composer: Derrick Hodge
  • Co-Editor: Dawn Logsdon
  • Co-Editor: William A. Anderson
  • Producer and Editor: Jane Greenberg
  • Director, Producer, Cinematographer: Leah Mahan
Website:
http://comehellorhighwaterfilm.com
Film Length:
56 minutes
Social:
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Come Hell or High Water: The Battle for Turkey Creek follows the painful but inspiring journey of Derrick Evans, a Boston teacher who moves home to coastal Mississippi when the graves of his ancestors are bulldozed to make way for the sprawling city of Gulfport. Over the course of a decade, Derrick and his neighbors stand up to powerful corporate interests and politicians and face ordeals including Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil disaster in their struggle for self-determination and environmental justice.

Turkey Creek residents are descendants of emancipated slaves who settled on the Gulf Coast in the 1860s. They have been stewards of the creeks rich wetland habitat for generations, and have farmed, fished, hunted and been baptized along its banks. Today, Turkey Creek is surrounded by an airport, a Walmart, highways and an industrial canal that threaten the community and its fragile wetlands.

Filmed in an intimate verite style, the story begins when Turkey Creek residents attempt to stop a development that would fill hundreds of acres in the watershed. The mayor of Gulfport responds by calling the protestors "dumb bastards" for standing in the way of progress. Turkey Creek residents and allies succeed in halting the development, only to see their victory unravel after Hurricane Katrina. Taking the fight to a larger arena, Derrick testifies before Congress and travels cross-country in a FEMA trailer to advocate for a sustainable future for the Gulf Coast.

Derrick is consumed by his advocacy work, and the stable life he built as a teacher is in jeopardy. His work begins to pay off when Turkey Creek is added to the National Register of Historic Places and the federal government moves to support a 1,600-acre natural preserve. But the celebration is cut short when BP oil begins spilling into the Gulf, threatening Turkey Creek's tidal estuary and the entire Gulf Coast.

This is an inspirational story of how one community banded together to save their land and culture. Filmmaker Leah Mahan worked with the Gulf Coast Fund for Community Renewal and Ecological Health to create an interactive website and network of bloggers called Bridge the Gulf. This network links environmental justice activists, writers and others concerned about resource extraction, climate change and a sustainable future for the Gulf Coast region.

"This intimate film tells a gigantic story about race, about power, about so-called development. But it is also a saga of community, resilience, resistance, and hope. Its about everything that matters in our society."
Bill Bigelow, Rethinking Schools

"Turkey Creek is emblematic of so much of what is going on in the world right now, and that part of our country. These communities are not supposed to be considered resilient. These communities were not supposed to survive, but they've survived. And the solutions that they're coming up with are the solutions that we all really need to pay attention to and lift up."
--Leslie Fields, Sierra Club, Environmental Justice and Community Partnerships Director

Come Hell or High Water: The Battle for Turkey Creek is a co-production of Zamler Productions and the Independent Television Service (ITVS), produced in association with Mississippi Public Broadcasting, with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). Additional support has been provided by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Sundance Institute Documentary Fund, Chicken and Egg Pictures, Fledgling Fund, Berkeley Film Foundation, Just Media Fund, Winograd-Hutner Family Fund, Nu Lambda Trust, LEF Moving Image Fund, Fleishhacker Foundation and individual donors.

The Film Campaign

Come Hell or High Water premiered on public television on the series America ReFramed on April 29, 2014 and additional broadcasts will be scheduled in 2014 and 2015.

A network of Gulf Coast community leaders and national environmental and civil rights organizations are key partners in an outreach and engagement campaign. The community journalism site Bridge the Gulf is a hub of information and activity related to the film. The project launched in 2010 as the BP disaster was unfolding and has grown into a vibrant resource for threatened Gulf Coast communities and their allies. Bridge the Gulf places the Turkey Creek story in a broader context, connecting viewers to a network of Gulf Coast community journalists with deep roots in diverse communities and fields who report on pressing social and environmental issues.

The beta website was developed at the BAVC Producers Institute for New Media Technologies and the design is currently being updated for re-launch in fall 2013 with funds from ITVS. Bridge the Gulf was featured at Good Pitch San Francisco and presented at the Media That Matters conference and has drawn the attention of MSNBC, the BBC and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Project partners, including the Gulf Coast Fund, are planning a series of screenings of Come Hell or High Water at regional and national convenings of community leaders, activists, academics and philanthropists working on environmental justice, human rights and sustainable development.

Issue: Environment, Human Rights, Race & Ethnicity

Collection:

Reel Power

Awards

  • American Film Showcase - Official Selection
  • Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital - Official Selection
  • New Orleans Film Festival - Audience Award
  • San Francisco Green Film Festival - Official Selection

Where to buy:
Come Hell or High Water: The Battle for Turkey Creek

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Bridge the Gulf places the Turkey Creek story in a broader context, connecting viewers to a network of Gulf Coast community journalists and storytellers with deep roots in diverse communities and fields who report on pressing social and environmental issues.Follow the project on Facebook and Twitter and stay on top of whats happening on the Gulf Coast. Consider contributing your story or urging someone you know to tell theirs.

Event Name Date City State   Location Status
HOT! screening of Come Hell or High Water Aug 27, 2014 San Antonio TX United States Woodlawn Theater Login to RSVP to this event
San Francisco Green Film Festival May 31, 2014 San Francisco CA United States Roxie Theater Complete
Watch Party at Artel Gallery May 30, 2014 Pensacola FL United States Artel Gallery Complete
Watch Party May 18, 2014 Washington DC United States The Turret Complete
Come Hell or High Water at Houston Environmental Justice Encuentro May 17, 2014 Houston TX United States Texas Southern University, building 151 Complete
Come Hell or High Water: The Battle for Turkey Creek Apr 30, 2014 Jackson MS United States Mississippi Public Broadcasting Complete
National Television Broadcast Apr 29, 2014 United States DC United States America Reframed on PBS WORLD Channel Complete
Envionmental Justice Apr 29, 2014 Elizabeth City NC United States NSC 206 Complete
Come Hell or High Water: The Battle for Turkey Creek Apr 13, 2014 Jackson MS United States Mississippi Public Broadcasting Complete
Come Hell or High Water: The Battle for Turkey Creek Apr 09, 2014 Houston TX United States Room 114, Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs Complete
Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital Mar 30, 2014 Washington DC United States Carnegie Institution for Science, Elihu Root Auditorium Complete
Power Shift Oct 20, 2013 Pittsburgh PA United States David L. Lawrence Convention Center Complete
New Orleans Film Festival Oct 13, 2013 New Orleans LA United States Contemporary Arts Center of New Orleans Complete

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