Synopsis by Mark Deming
In 2005, filmmaker Hanson Hosein examined the rise of "Big Box" chain discount stores and the impact they've had on small independent businesses across the United States in his documentary Independent America: The Two Lane Search For Mom and Pop. Not long after Hosein completed shooting the film, Hurricane Katrina ripped through Louisiana, and in this follow-up to the earlier film, he offers a look at how the battle between politically well-connected retailers and local business people has become an issue in the struggle to rebuild New Orleans. In the aftermath of Katrina, a number of small "Mom and Pop" stores were the first to re-open, eager to help people with the goods and services they needed as they reclaimed their homes. But at the same time, local and federal agencies began offering large tax breaks to major chain stores to bring their businesses back to New Orleans, and a growing number of local businesses found themselves paying higher property taxes to help support companies with no connection to the community whose success could put them out of business; at the same time, many parts of the city were still without supermarkets, banks or filling stations as local businesses struggled to raise the capital to open them. Independent America: Rising From Ruins was an official selection at the 2009 Seattle International Film Festival.