Our first documentary project explores the national cultural impact of mass migration due to natural and weather related causes. The inspiration was the exodus from the Gulf Coast after the 2005/2006 Atlantic hurricane season.

Project Summary:

Over 1 million people were pushed from their homes (New Orleans, Gulfport, Galveston, and surrounding areas) and had to struggle to create a new life in a new place or fight to come home.New Land, New Life tells the story not only of those forced out but the effects on our cultural landscape brought about by such a mass migration of human energy, talent and resources. Officially lasting from June 1 to November 30, the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season produced 28 storms (the most in recorded history), 15 of which were hurricanes, 4 of which (Emily, Katrina, Rita, and Wilma) were Category 5. Katrina alone displaced over 1 million residents, making it the largest mass migration in US history from a natural disaster. Only the Great Migration from the years 1916 to 1930 saw more people move, and that took place over 14 years, not 14 days. Through interviews with evacuees, the film will examine the greater questions of human migration patterns, internal displacement within our country, and the long-term effects of migration on our culture over time.


The project originated as a production assignment completed by Frank Kuzler for GQ Magazine’s Moscow edition in early October 2005, only six weeks after Hurricane Katrina. The theme of that assignment was the fate of the jazz musician after Katrina, in New Orleans. The effects of cultural pollination inspired Frank to start documenting this story after meeting several evacuees who were traveling to their new homes in other cities.

The Science Behind It:

Hurricanes. Mankind's battle against the elements, and human migration. Storm science. Low pressure leads to a tropical depression, basically a disorganized gathering of thunderstorms. However, the slightest amount of rotation due to changes in the wind brings the storms together. Winds pick up. Greater than 33MPH and the storm is given a name. Heat generated from warm waters and kinetic energy increase the speed of the winds. Above 63MPH the system is officially called a hurricane.

Migration. The organized movement of a group of people from one place to another. Mankind from the African continent. Israelites from Egypt. Europeans to America. The occurrence of a natural disaster is an example of what is called a “push factor,” or the reason for moving. The movement affects population characteristics, social and cultural patterns and practices, economies, and physical habitats. As people move, their cultural traits and ideas disseminate, creating new and modifying existing cultural landscapes.