Friday, May 21, 2010

Mine, a documentary film by Geralyn Pezanoski

Hurricane Katrina continues to be the source of unusual stories, including Mine, a documentary film by Geralyn Pezanoski. According to the Film Movement website, within weeks of the storm in 2005, Pezanoski was in New Orleans with her camera crew filming efforts by volunteers to rescue pets left behind (not "abandoned") by the residents ordered to flee without animals. While most residents were still being kept out of the city, people with animal rescue organizations from around the country were in New Orleans prying open windows, crawling under houses, cutting through roofs, and doing whatever necessary to save hungry, frightened pets. With irony, one rescuer noted that anyone could write "animal rescue" on the side of their truck and easily pass into the city while local police and the National Guard were keeping pet owners - the people who could have helped the most - out. While as many as 150,000 animals died, the volunteers rescued thousands of dogs, cats, guinea pigs, etc., noting their addresses and tags to assist in reuniting them with owners later.

If there had not been so many pets, the animals would not have been sent to so many shelters across the country. Pets in the documentary went to Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania, California, and (I think) Colorado. The film indicates that these shelters began by asking people in their areas to foster these pets until the owners could be found. What was not clear was when the idea of fostering was replaced with giving the pets to new owners.

Pezanoski follows the cases of five owners separated from their pets. Some people were displaced for months and, when they finally got back to New Orleans, they had no idea initially how to locate their pets. By the time they got leads, new families in other parts of the country were attached to the animals, giving them new names and incorporating them into their families. Some new these owners refused to give them back. To her credit, Pezanoski shows all sides of these cases when subjects cooperated. In my opinion, only the lawyer who bad-mouthed the people of New Orleans gets and deserves no sympathy. Still, I think most viewers will side with the New Orleans residents who lost so much and then learned that other people were withholding their pets.

We showed Mine in our film discussion series at Thomas Ford. Though our turnout was light, our discussion of the emotional film was heartfelt.

Mine. Film Movement, 2010. 80 minutes. ISBN 9781440793721

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