In June 2014, POV caught up with Louis Alvarez, Andrew Kolker, Peter Odabashian and Paul Stekler, the filmmakers of Getting Back to Abnormal, to find out what’s happened since the camera stopped rolling.
POV: What has happened in the lives of Stacy Head and Barbara Lacen-Keller since the end of this film?
In 2014, Stacy was re-elected to her at-large council position easily, getting 62% of the vote (a significant change from her previous at-large win, when she barely won by just 281 votes).
She is seen as a major contender for mayor in 2018. Even though she and Mayor Landrieu have often been at odds, analysis shows. An additional consideration is whether Head is eyeing herself a bid for mayor in the future. If so, the fact that her support overlaps Landrieu’s suggests that there is a formula for success. It’s also interesting to note that the very same precincts that boosted Landrieu to victory, also strongly supported Head.
Barbara Lacen-Keller remains Stacy’s head of Constituent Services. She also has suggested that we come down to film her campaign for mayor.
POV: How have audiences in New Orleans reacted to Getting Back to Abnormal?
Because New Orleanians already know the whole backstory, their responses tend to flow from their previously held opinions about the film’s major characters. For locals, the film’s biggest appeal seems to be the way it goes behind the scenes and offers a contrast to the portrait of Stacy Head that predominates in the local media. Outside of Louisiana, we are often told at screenings that Getting Back to Abnormal has made New Orleans a lot less inscrutable, and that folks feel as if they have experienced a “different” New Orleans than the one they have either visited themselves or have learned about through the national media.
Great screenings in Bergen, Norway, Hot Springs (where we won the Audience Award), Lincoln Center, Havana. We’re especially proud of screenings of the film in Cuba, where viewers got into serious discussions about race in Cuban culture.
POV: What are you all working on next?
Paul: I’m back to teaching at the University of Texas, where I’m the chair of the Radio-Television-Film Department. In the last year, our students have won the top narrative award from the Student Academy Awards, the IDA’s awards for best student documentary and for best short documentary, and the first prize at the Cinéfondation Selection of the Cannes Film Festival. I’m also working on a new film, with Heather Courtney (Where Soldiers Come From) and Deb Lewis (shot All of Me) about Texas politics and this year’s statewide elections that feature campaigns by two Democratic women, Wendy Davis and Leticia Van de Putte.
Peter: I’ve been working on a new film for over a year, and in a way, it’s the opposite of Getting Back To Abnormal because it’s a solo project. It’s a personal documentary about navigating old age and how all of us become more who we are as the years go by. It’s called Old Friends. It’ll be finished in early 2015.
Andy and Louis: Andy and Louis are still in New York, developing a number of new projects, including Anglophilia, a wry look at America’s love of all things British (for PBS), and Buckwheat’s World, a portrait of Louisiana musical legend Buckwheat Zydeco, which allows them to keep their Louisiana mojo active.