Paradise Faded - a new film about the loss of state's coastline and wetlands
For a young filmmaker who was drawn to tell the inevitable loss of his native Louisiana coast, the ultimate reward and his loftiest goal would be to see the U.S. Congress stand up, take notice and do something about the ever shrinking coastline and the preservation of its wetlands.
‘Paradise Faded - The fight for Louisiana’ a film by Lafayette native Jared Arsement is scheduled for full release on April 22, but about 750 copies of the film have been distributed to the media and all of the state legislators in the hopes that the message contained therein will make a difference.
The film was inspired by a trip that Arsement took with some friends to the coast and then he was introduced to the book Bayou Farewell - The Rich Life and Tragic Death of Louisiana’s Cajun Coast by Mike Tidwell.
“I always knew there was a problem with the wetlands, but didn’t really know the extent or how much Louisiana contributed to the nation for that matter,” he said.
Fresh out of school at the University of New Orleans Film School, Arsement set out to find more information about coastal erosion, losing the wetlands and the value of the coast to the nation.
His research, which he started in 2004, took him to not only the wetlands of Louisiana, but also to the Netherlands where he filmed the system of flood protection in place in that region.
He researched the available material from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Save America’s Wetlands organization among other materials and felt that he could tell the story in a better way, beyond all the technical reasons, yet including them.
“The more I worked on the project, the more people told me to speak to so and so, or this person here, and this person there.”
Eventually he came across the name of John T. Landry who, according to Arsement, was his initial contact to the Vermilion Parish information.
In fact, Landry contributed to the film with some footage he took at Pecan Island shortly after Hurricane Rita ravaged the area.
In addition to the local images, the music featured in the film is only from Louisiana musicians.
Filming first began at the 2006 Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans and continued for about six months as Arsement traveled along the Louisiana coast in search of more footage and information.
The opening frames of the film bring in Sterling Freiu, a retired commercial fisherman who still spends much of his time on the waterways and bayous around Morgan City. Although looking for information on the commercial industry over the years, Freiu proved to be a valuable asset and fount of information regarding the disappearing lands.
“He put a face of the people, the culture, to the film,” Arsement stated.
Some of the 67 minute film is based upon the format of a documentary, but the unique placement of music and information creates an hour of entertainment as well as information.
Arsement has another tie to Vermilion Parish; his wife, the former Camille Guidry from Abbeville.
In addition to distribution of the film, Arsement hopes to premiere it in several cities around the state and hopefully the nation. He will meet with the Abbeville Film and Visitor Commission on May 15 to discuss the possibility of a venue in the immediate area.
A trailer of the film, which includes Abbeville’s Judge Edwards, can been seen at his website www.paradisefaded.com