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.
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.
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After the film, ask your audience to get involved with your group or take action on a local issue.
Be sure to let us know how your screening went and how your community is taking action.
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.
|Come Hell or High Water: The Battle for Turkey Creek||Feb 12, 2015||Chapel Hill||NC||United States||UNC School of Public Health||Login to RSVP to this event|
|Screening Come Hell or High Water - The Battle for Turkey Creek||Feb 11, 2015||Greensboro||NC||United States||Global Learning Center Auditorium - Bennett College||Login to RSVP to this event|
|Gullah/Geechee Seafood Festival||Oct 25, 2014||Hunting Island||SC||United States||Hunting Island Nature Center||Complete|
|NCEJ Summit||Oct 17, 2014||Whitakers||NC||United States||Historic Franklinton Center at Bricks||Complete|
|HOT! screening of Come Hell or High Water||Aug 27, 2014||San Antonio||TX||United States||Woodlawn Theater||Complete|
|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|