In light of the tumultuous political climate and police brutality against African-Americans, “What You Gonna Do When The World’s On Fire?” is a much-needed film that ventures to tell the stories of the silenced. Directed by Roberto Minervini, the film explores the relationship between law enforcement and African-Americans in the American south, and highlights the shutdown of Judy Hill’s beloved Ooh Poo Pah Doo Bar in Treme. “What You Gonna Do When The World’s On Fire?” will premiere at the prestigious Venice Film Festival on September 1.
Judy Hill is the daughter of late R&B icon Jessie Hill, who named her bar after her father’s 1960 hit, “Ooh Poo Pah Doo.” The Treme hotspot celebrated African-American musicians with images of Trombone Shorty, Irma Thomas, Fats Domino and others plastered on the walls.
“’You know, when I first opened, I didn’t expect white people here,’” Hill said. But gentrification and tourism in New Orleans changed the demographics of the historically-black Tremé. On some nights, there were more white than black patrons. In April 2017, the beloved bar was forced to close its doors. While the property owner insisted that it was due to untimely rent payments, bar owner Judy Hill insists that she was pushed out of the neighborhood due to gentrification.
“I hope that this film can facilitate a much-needed discussion. On race and the current plight of African-Americans who, now more than ever, are witnessing the intensification of hate crimes and discriminatory policies,” director Roberto Minervini said.
“What You Gonna Do When The World’s On Fire?” examines the rich culture of New Orleans—exemplified by local gems like the Ooh Poo Pah Doo bar—that is being constantly challenged by discrimination and gentrification. It will ignite global attention to the struggle of the black community in the American South and hopefully take home an award too.