A storm of biblical proportions ravages a small town; your town. Torrential rains, gale force winds and rising flood levels torture you and your family, threatening your lives and well being. Scared and flustered you huddle together to ride out the storm. Then the levy breaks and you’re all forced to seek refuge on the roof of your home, stranded there for indeterminate span of time. No one knows when help will arrive it could be hours, worse still it could be days. Trapped by nature’s fury, and encircled by steadily rising, disease ridden waters there is only hope to sustain you. Your home is totaled and for miles there is only murky brown death surrounding you and your loved ones. At long last, a rowboat approaches. Your prayers have been answered. You carefully load your children on to the boat, breathing a sigh of relief as each one clings to the helpful stranger below. Knowing they will be safe is more comforting than anything you can remember. The trial is almost over; you may just make it after all. Breathing a sigh of relief you reach for the last of your brood only to be told you’ll have to leave this one behind. There is plenty of room but this family member is not allowed. Your only options are ride in the boat with the rest of your dear ones or sit here and pray that either the water subsides or someone else comes to save you. Tired weary and starved, but none of that matters now you must decide. With a heavy heart and dragging feet you make a decision, you hop into the boat and ride toward your future. Though relieved to finally be saved from an unimaginable end you look back in sadness and remorse at the one who must stay behind. Your constant companion who you’ve shared a life with must be left to die all because of some ridiculous protocol, only humans are allowed in the vessel.
Though it may seem like some far-fetched version of reality this scenario rings all too true for the survivors of Hurricane Katrina. MINE a moving documentary directed by Gerylyn Pezanoski explores the lives of pets and the families forced to leave them behind. Pezanoski’s directorial debut follows the story of five people and their fight to retrieve their displaced pets from shelters as well as adoptive families. Different social backgrounds and ethnic groups paint a picture of a problem that knows know color or class. As with any unbiased account the rescuers and adoptive guardians are also represented in this film. Unapologetic and raw Pezanoski simply opens the door to discussion regarding the topic rather than taking sides in what is an ongoing debate. While zooming in on responsible pet owners the film does not shy away from neglectful owners who abused and mistreated their animals long before the storm.
Hurricane Katrina left hundreds of thousands of human beings homeless and almost twice as many pets. Though many of the animals were recovered many were not returned to their rightful families. In some cases as highlighted through the film the animals were adopted by new families who refused to give them up. Featuring a somber soundtrack and real life footage of a storm ravaged New Orleans, this documentary highlights a different kind of suffering and longing, the likes of which held no precedent. Though seen through the eyes of the original pet owners and an obvious animal lover this film allows all sides to air their grievances without prejudice. It is as gut wrenching as it is moving. The exchanges between pet owners and animal shelter personnel is at times appalling and unimaginable. Without relying on shock value this film identifies the gaps in animal management as well as the cruelty in being forced to choose between the life of your family and that of a cherished pet. Though dealt with respectfully and honestly the original owners are not turned into martyrs, it is clear throughout the film that they are simply human trying to make the most of a desperate situation. Whether you love animals or not this film is a fascinating account of human nature and survival. Though the subject matter is in regard to our four legged, furry and winged brethren it is a window into the state of humanity and what it truly means to be human.
***To support MINE and find out where you can see this incredible documentary. Please visit minethemovie.com or the MINE blog.