New Orleans based filmmaker, Nailah Jefferson says, "I am awestruck that there is a community fifty-five miles away from my front doorstep longing for their story to be told of a personal paradise lost. Completely unknown and foreign to me."
Jefferson references this lost paradise in her latest documentary Vanishing Pearls. A three hundred member community of Pointe a la Hache, Louisiana (the last surviving African-American fishing community in the U.S.) once dependent on oyster fishing, has all but vanished. The main culprit being the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster. The long and short of it is that the powerful oil and gas industry has been threatening the livelihood of the small community for decades. Since the 2010 catastrophe to the region, the oyster fishing community has been undergoing a radical decline in the work that sustained their community.
Byron Encalade, one of the local oyster fishing businessmen share their fight against the lucrative BP (Beyond Petroleum) oil company that continues to bleed them of their livelihood. The small tribe of fisher families want to see accountability. They continue to fight through legal channels and other means to find justice; while hanging on to their history, the love of their industry and the community they hold dear.
Jefferson concludes, "With films and storytelling, we can she light in dark places - and those dark places aren't' particularly in the farthest reaches or various, exotic port of call. They are often in our own backyard and next door."