After Hurricane Katrina, 600 evacuees were moved from the Big Easy to the town Mormonism built: Salt Lake City. In a state where African-Americans constitute 0.8 percent of the population, this documentary asks, can these two divergent cultures get along? Answering with contrived “Kumbaya” interactions, Desert Bayou shows that much of the racism encountered by SLC’s new arrivals, who were forced to stay in desert Army base quarters and subjected to background checks and a curfew, isn’t unique to Utah. Cultural differences notwithstanding, the doc’s two protagonists—who have settled their families in SLC—return from a New Orleans visit convinced that yesterday’s disaster can be tomorrow’s blessing.
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