Thursday, September 29, 2011

A different kind of portrait

I wouldn't classify Alex Glustrom as one of the Stalwarts.  His role in the Footprint and the Charity Hospital controversy has been one of documentation rather than advocacy.  But he deserves mention because he has been onhand, for years now, at many of the crucial moments, video camera in hand.

Brad V:  How did you get involved in covering the LSU/VA/Charity controversy?

Alex G:  I first got involved when I was in college at Tulane University.  I've always loved film and documentaries.  I wanted to make a documentary, and my first documentary idea was to make an overarching film about all of the changes in post-Katrina New Orleans.  It was going to be about the changes in the schools, the public houses, the healthcare.  And I just thought I could make this overarching documentary - that would have been 10 hours long - to even begin to cover these issues.  

I was filming at a United Nations fact-finding mission on adequate housing, and they were going all over the city talking with former public housing residents, current public housing residents - and talking with current homeowners, lessees, and business owners in the footprints of the hospitals.  It was basically a mission on people being forced out of their homes.

That's when the people from Save Charity Hospital (Jonah Evans and Eli Ackerman) made a presentation to the United Nation officials.  And I listened to the presentation, and I got to know some of the people involved.  So I began to film some of the stuff they were doing, their efforts to reopen Charity Hospital and save the neighborhood.  I tried to include Charity Hospital and the neighborhood into the documentary.  But then, as time went on, I realized I needed to re-focus the documentary.  It would have been too long.

So, I started focusing on Charity Hospital and on the neighborhood.  There was a lot of misinformation out there - on both sides - about what was going on, the hospital, the homeowners.  For me, doing my research -and I did a lot of research - it seemed difficult for me to come to the truth.  So, I felt that making a documentary that put the facts out there was key.  I really wanted to show both sides.  I didn't want to push an opinion or sway the facts.  So, I've been trying to interview both sides.

I've been trying to make a documentary that just puts the facts out there.  That shows the potential for the hospital - but also what was sacrificed to get to it, the process that it took to get to this point, the setbacks, the sacrifices.  And really, just an accurate depiction of what's happened over the past six years.

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