Friday, August 24, 2007

Kamp Katrina

A worthy addition to the steadily increasing array of documentaries about life and strife in post-Katrina New Orleans, Kamp Katrina is a frequently affecting but scrupulously nonjudgmental look at a makeshift mini-community of survivors. Filmmakers Ashley Sabin and David Redmon may catch grief in certain PC quarters for focusing almost entirely on working-class and lower-middle-class whites -- specifically, the sort of New Orleaneans often referenced in local slanguage as "yats" (as in, "Where yat, darlin'?"). Oddly enough, however, the movie winds up being all the more fascinating because race isn't an issue as tensions rise among earthy folks in close quarters.

I reviewed Kamp Katrina for Variety after its premiere last spring at SXSW, and I subsequently was honored to introduce the film and the filmmakers at the Nashville Film Festival. And, yes, I am a New Orleans native -- born and raised in the Ninth Ward. (Most of movie was shot just a few blocks away from the Alvar Street Branch of the New Orleans Public Library -- the first of the city library system's storm-damaged branches to reopen its doors after Katrina -- where, as a youngster during the '60s, I first encountered a collection of reviews by Pauline Kael.) So I've taken more than a casual interest in how this insightful film has fared elsewhere. And so far, I'm happy to say, the reponse has been good. GreenCine Daily offers an invaluable update that includes links to Matt Zoller Seitz's favorable appraisal in the New York Times, and the Kamp Katrina website, where you can see whether or not it's coming soon to a theater near you. If it isn't, maybe you should ask the appropriate people in your area to rectify that situation.

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