On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall in New Orleans as a Category 5 hurricane. Today is the 14th anniversary of that catastrophic event. The storm brought high speed winds and damaging levels of wind, which left the city in shambles. The New Orleans Film Society decided to cancel the New Orleans Film Festival that year, but it regrouped after the storm, and in 2006, the New Orleans Film Festival reopened. In the years since, filmmakers have used Katrina as inspiration for their films. The New Orleans Film Festival has screened many films focused on the aftermath of the storm, including its own ‘Shooting Katrina’ film series, which presented 18 films at #NOFF2006. Here are some notable films that remember the storm:
Katrina’s Children, dir. Laura Belsey
Katrina’s Children is a feature-length documentary that screened at #NOFF2008. What’s unique about this documentary is that it shows Katrina’s impact through the lens of a child. Katrina’s Children follows 19 children from different New Orleans neighborhoods, telling their stories and sharing their experiences. The film is a tribute to the resilience of these children and the New Orleans community in the wake of a great tragedy. Stream it via Snag Films.
The Big Uneasy, dir. Harry Shearer
5 years after the storm, The Big Uneasy was screened at #NOFF2010. New Orleans native Harry Shearer takes the audience inside the mechanics of the storm, investigating the reasons why Katrina was so disastrous to New Orleans, and whether the damage could have been avoided. Stream it on Amazon Prime.
Race, dir. Katherine Cecil
Screened at #NOFF2010. While not explicitly about Katrina, the film explores how the hurricane impacted the political climate of New Orleans, through the lens of Ray Nagin’s mayoral re-election in 2006. The storm changed the racial climate of the city, dividing the community and making Nagin’s re-election a challenge. This election put the political climate of a city in crisis on display and gained national attention.
The Experiment, dir. Ben Lemoine
The Experiment, a documentary film about the New Orleans education system post-Katrina, screened at the New Orleans Film Festival in 2011. In the wake of the storm, the cracks in the city’s education system became apparent. This film catalogues the large scale education reform New Orleans underwent in an effort to improve the public education system for future generations.
‘Shooting Katrina’ Film Series
In 2006, the New Orleans Film Festival produced the ‘Shooting Katrina’ film series, which showcased films about the storm, the rescue efforts made, and the city’s attempt to re-build. Here is a list of the films presented as part of the Shooting Katrina Film Series:
- The Bellsouth Group
- A Loud Color
- Rescue and Refuge: Kenny Bellau
- Dear Mister President
- Finding Home Again
- An Eye in the Storm
- Dat 9th Ward
- Saving Willie Mae’s Scotch House
- Here After
- Life in a Stranger’s Town
- Tim’s Island
- Four Stories from Katrina
- Unnatural Disaster
- The Raw Truth
- Old Orleans
14 years later, and New Orleans is still recovering from Hurricane Katrina. Filmmakers are using their craft not to highlight the damage the storm caused, but to showcase the strength and willpower of the New Orleans community to re-build. The New Orleans community is a testament to the fact that disaster can bring people together, and these films illustrate that.
The 30th annual New Orleans Film Festival will showcase new narrative and documentary films that shed a light to environmental issues and the climate crisis. Stay tuned for a blog post with all environmentally focused films at #NOFF2019 and the lineup here.