Department of Anthropology

Paul J. Stekler: Reel New Orleans

Mon, March 4, 2013 | SAC 5.118

12:00 PM

Paul J. Stekler: Reel New Orleans

"Reel New Orleans"

A talk by Paul J. Stekler, Radio, Film and Television, University of Texas at Austin

New Orleans is no stranger to being depicted on film. The city has been a palate for many a screenwriter’s fantasy. Paul Stekler, Professor of Public Affairs and Chair of the Radio-Television-Film Program at UT Austin, will talk about the tradition of documenting New Orleans on film, citing early work like Les Blank’s “Always for Pleasure” and films on music and culture from the New Orleans Video Access Center. He will also show clips from his new film, “Getting Back to Abnormal,” which will premier on March 11 at the SXSW Film Festival.

About the Filmmaker:  Paul J. Stekler is a nationally recognized documentary filmmaker whose critically praised and award-winning work explores the nuances of American politics and political culture through story. His most recent project, “The Choice 2008,” was a two-hour PBS Frontline documentary that interwove the political biographies of Barack Obama and John McCain during the 2008 presidential race. Other films include “George Wallace: Settin’ the Woods on Fire”; “Last Man Standing: Politics, Texas Style”; “Vote for Me: Politics in America”; “Last Stand at Little Big Horn” (broadcast as part of PBS’s series The American Experience); “Louisiana Boys: Raised on Politics” (broadcast on PBS’s P.O.V. series); and two segments of the Eyes on the Prize II civil rights history series. His films have won two George Foster Peabody Awards, three Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Journalism Awards, three national Emmy Awards, and a special jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival. He has a doctorate in Government from Harvard, where his work focused on Southern politics, and is Director of Research at the New Center for Politics and Governance at UT’s LBJ School of Public Affairs.

About the Film:  New Orleans’ long history of political dysfunction and complicated racial dynamics gets a new lease on life when Stacy Head, a polarizing white woman, wins a seat on the city council after Katrina. Four years later, she needs to get black votes to be re-elected. But will her record of blunt racial talk doom her chances? “Getting Back to Abnormal” follows the unlikely odd couple of Head and her irrepressible black political advisor Barbara Lacen-Keller as they try to navigate New Orleans’ treacherous political scene. With its cast of only-in-New-Orleans characters, “Getting Back to Abnormal” is a provocative and amusing look at race in America, set against the backdrop of New Orleans’ rich culture. Produced and directed by Louis Alvarez, Andrew Kolker, Peter Odabashian and Paul Stekler. For more information on the March 11 SXSW premier at the Paramount Theatre in Austin, please visit

For further information please contact Adriana Dingman at

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