Randy Fertel –
Energized by a passion for weaving ideas and people together, Randy
Fertel is president of the Fertel Foundation, which supports projects
related to the arts and education – especially those from
which new communities and insights may emerge, and those that challenge
entrenched communities of power. Among its other projects, the Foundation
is a co-sponsor, with The Nation Institute, of the Ridenhour Prizes,
which recognize annually with three $10,000 prizes those who tell
truth to power. He is also president of The Ruth U. Fertel Foundation,
which in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, awarded over a million dollars
to New Orleans schools and educational initiatives. A specialist
in the literature of the Vietnam War, he has taught English at the
university level at Harvard, Tulane, LeMoyne College, the University
of New Orleans, and The New School University in New York. He holds
a PhD from Harvard, where he received a teaching award bestowed
by student vote.
Alexa Georges – Executive Producer
Alexa Georges is a native New Orleanian who studied communications
and international communications in Washington DC and now is the
CEO of Alexa Georges Consulting, LLC. A cultural philanthropist,
Alexa has been a major supporter of arts and culture in New Orleans
through her involvement and fundraising efforts for various charitable
organizations. She sits on the advisory boards of ARTDOCS, the New
Orleans Film Society, and the William Faulkner Society. She co-founded
the Sweet Art Katrina fund in 2006, a re-granting program for artists
in the Gulf Coast region who were gravely affected by Hurricane
Katrina. She was recently honored in New Orleans and New York in
2007 as a “Sweet Art” by the Contemporary Arts Center
of New Orleans for her contribution to the recovery of New Orleans’
art and cultural scene, and by her work to draw international attention
to the impact of Hurricane Katrina.
Executive Producer's Statement
Tootie’s Last Suit
grew out of Lisa Katzman’s fascination with the Mardi Gras
Indian culture of New Orleans and a growing concern for its survival.
When I heard about her project, as a New Orleanian I knew I had
to help make it happen.
Lisa Katzman is the visionary director and producer
behind it. She worked for almost a decade learning about this culture
and getting inside it. She’s from Chicago and New York but
I learned 90% of what I now know about Mardi Gras Indians from her
and from her film.
The culture is over 100 years old and it represents vestiges of
African and Indian cultures that are timeless. It is a response
to white oppression in general and to white Mardi Gras in particular.
The film will make these complex themes clearer for you.
There are many pressures upon this culture that
jeopardize its future. The usual suspects are to blame: poverty,
racism, and the pressures of the dominant, mass culture. But as
the film also makes clear, police violence is another factor. And
of course Katrina magnified those problems to the point where this
culture, this fully blown, fully articulated culture — that
exists hidden in plain sight even to those who like me grew up around
it — is in danger of being lost.
New Orleans needs eyeballs these days. It needs
the attention of people who care about it. I think you will find
that, with its ravishing images of Mardi Gras Indian costumes and
rituals, this film is a good place to put your eyeballs for the
time being. It will show you one aspect of New Orleans that is worth
caring about and worth saving — and it stands in for many
other unique aspects that together weave together the richness and
diversity New Orleans is famed and beloved for.
And after you have seen Tootie's
Last Suit, if we have succeeded in making you care a little
more, then come to New Orleans. Come next February to Mardi Gras
2008 (Mardi Gras Day is February 5th) or to Jazz Fest (last weekend
in April, first weekend in May), a party even greater perhaps than
Mardi Gras. — Randy Fertel –
Randy Fertel – Executive Producer