Private Project


How Music Saved a City... 10 years after the catastrophic events surrounding hurricane Katrina, ONLY NEW ORLEANS looks back at how the Big Easy has changed since then. It is an evocative story of survival inspired by the uplifting and connective power of music.
On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck the coast off New Orleans with horrific force. It was the worst natural catastrophe in recent American history, with over 1,800 casualties and one million people displaced in the region. This film recalls those dramatic events, shows interviews with survivors and gives us a feel for how this extraordinary city and its people continue to find the inspiration to push on, buoyed to an unrivaled extent by the power of music.
Only in New Orleans is something you hear often in the city, particularly as a defiant jab at certain conservative politicians who 10 years ago would have just as easily left the whole place under water forever. Yet the city forms the roots, to a significant degree in some cases, of musical genres from jazz, R&B, and rock 'n' roll to soul, funk, reggae and hip-hop. Musicians including Allen Toussaint, Irma Thomas, James Andrews, Ivan Neville, Davis Rogan, Jon Cleary, Big Freedia and Travis "Trumpet Black" Hill as well as employees from the city's emergency task forces tell their stories of the power of music and of the destruction of Katrina.
ONLY NEW ORLEANS is an evocative story of disaster and of the abilities of people to keep on living in the aftermath, and in the case of New Orleans, to do so by harnessing the inimitable force of music and celebrating life in the face of death.
Travis "Trumpet Black" Hill represented a special instance of this strength of spirit. An up-and- coming star on the music scene in New Orleans, Travis became ill and died while on tour overseas. His tragic fate became an essential element of the film while the city celebrated the young star's passing for over two weeks with funeral processions that transformed into rollicking parties – and all of this in a city whose defiant and creative population has managed to reinvent itself in the 10 short years since its greatest disaster.

  • Vassili Silovic
  • Colin Escott
  • Jörg Bundschuh
  • Allen Toussaint
    Key Cast
  • Irma Thomas
    Key Cast
  • James Andrews
    Key Cast
  • Ivan Neville
    Key Cast
  • Jon Cleary
    Key Cast
  • Roland Wagner
  • Carmen Kirchweger
  • Kick Film GmbH
    Production Company
    KICK FILM GmbH ( is an independent production company for high quality theatrical and television films. Within the last 30 years Kick Film has developed and produced more than 200 films, most of them receiving international awards and invitations to some of the worlds most recognized film festivals.
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Music, Culture, City-Portrait
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 29 minutes 46 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    October 1, 2015
  • Production Budget:
    0 EUR
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
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  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Vassili Silovic

Vassili Silovic was born 1964 in the former Yugoslavia. The disappearance of the country made him a Croatian with a Slovenian passport, Italian mother tongue who grew up in Germany. He started his work as an author and director with portraits of artists. Since 1993 he is living and working in Paris. Until today he was able to realize more than twenty five documentaries.

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Director Statement

Not many cities can claim a character quite as unique as New Orleans. A melting pot of different cultures, THE BIG EASY has created a seemingly unparalleled joie de vivre expressed first and foremost in the diverse styles of music that have originated here.

But New Orleans has always existed on the cusp of obliteration. Parts of it are just slightly above sea level; parts are slightly below. It is situated on one of the most hurricane-prone coastlines in the world. All that protected it until Katrina were levees built in 1985 to withstand a Category 3 hurricane. But what would happen if New Orleans sustained a Category 4 or 5 hurricane?

On August 29, 2005, the city found out...

I wanted to create a film about New Orleans that is not only visually unrivaled but also filled with the kind of music that brings the viewer closer to the city's exceptional history, people, rhythm and ambience.
In history, as with individuals, it is the dramatic events that create a sense of affinity and empathy. Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath was one such event, providing even outsiders with what feels like a personal connection to the place and its residents.

Ten years after the disaster, which caused thousands of deaths, the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people, and a mass exodus by many, we wanted to experience what really happened in 2005 and how the city has changed since then. In particular, we wanted to see it through the eyes of musicians and artists from New Orleans.

Some Washington, D.C., politicians pronounced the city dead, wrote it off. Then a number of famous American artists voiced indignation toward idle politicians before showing an unprecedented commitment to save the city from its downfall. It was an effort that went on for months. In this documentary I wanted to show the audience how New Orleans - on the verge of extinction - began to redefine itself in a fight against corruption and political failure...

But ... Can New Orleans still be seen as the unique place it was ten years ago?

In ONLY NEW ORLEANS, local musicians such as Allen Toussaint, Irma Thomas, Ivan Neville and many others tell us their experiences of the tragic events and how their lives and their city have changed in the aftermath.