A decade later, what is the legacy of Hurricane Katrina?
SFGFF selects five powerful films that reflect on the storm and its aftermath:
When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts
Spike Lee's award-winning documentary follows the events that preceded and followed Hurricane Katrina's catastrophic passage through New Orleans in 2005. This intimate, heart-rending portrait of New Orleans in the wake of the destruction tells the heartbreaking personal stories of those who endured this harrowing ordeal and survived to tell the tale of misery, despair and triumph. "New Orleans is fighting for its life," says Lee. "These are not people who will disappear quietly - they're accustomed to hardship and slights, and they'll fight for New Orleans. This film will showcase the struggle for New Orleans by focusing on the profound loss, as well as the indomitable spirit of New Orleaneans."
Come Hell or High Water: The Battle for Turkey Creek
Winner of the Green Tenacity Award at the 2014 SF Green Film Festival, Come Hell or High Water follows the painful but inspiring journey of Derrick Evans, a Boston teacher who moves home to coastal Mississippi when his ancestors graves are bulldozed to make way for the sprawling city of Gulfport. Over a decade, Leah Mahan's remarkable documentary shows the resilience of a community that stands together for their rights.
A Village Called Versailles
First premiered at SF's CAAMfest, S. Leo Chiang's powerful documentary follows a Vietnamese American community that comes together in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In a New Orleans neighborhood called Versailles, a tight-knit group of Vietnamese Americans overcame obstacles to rebuild after the storm, only to have their homes threatened by a new government-imposed toxic landfill. A Village Called Versailles is the empowering story of how the Versailles people, who have already suffered so much in their lifetime, turn a devastating disaster into a catalyst for change and a chance for a better future.
The Big Uneasy
First shown in a SFGFF screening in 2011, humorist and New Orleans resident Harry Shearer gets the inside story of a disaster that could have been prevented from the people who were there. Shearer speaks to the tireless investigators and experts who poked through the muck as the water receded, and uncovers a courageous whistle-blower from the Army Corps of Engineers. His dogged pursuit of facts reveals that some of the same flawed methods responsible for levee failure during Hurricane Katrina are being used to rebuild the system expected to protect the "new" New Orleans from future peril.
The Great Flood
Before the levees broke in 2005, there was the Great Flood of 1927. From the 2014 SF Green Film Festival, this film-music collaboration by multimedia artist and filmmaker Bill Morrison and guitarist composer Bill Frisell is based on, and inspired by, the catastrophic Mississippi River Flood of 1927 and the ensuing transformation of American society.
Available on DVD at billmorrisonfilm.com/feature-length-films/the-great-flood