Ms. Pearl and her husband David are folks that appeared as if from some heaven, two people who offered their home and property to complete strangers, all because David, the tough and gruff landlord of the home, believes that at horrible times, people have to help each other.
At a time where a groundbreaking storm brought out the worst in humanity, and helped us see how quickly civilization can crumble in the face of a neglectful government, an apathetic mayor, and crooked authorities, Ms. Pearl and David offered so little, and yet accomplished a lot.
Redmon and Sabin offer an entry into the rapidly growing library of Post-Katrina documentaries and dramas, exploring how life in a small piece of land can be turbulent, and hard, when grudges, human flaws, and crime try to interrupt.
Redmon and Sabin offer an almost unflinching look at a small group of people forced to build a tent town in the backyard of two folks struggling to get by, and they do so by a strict set of rules, and the obligation that they find a job to contribute with.
Through this Redmon and Sabin don’t truly seem to be manipulating or tinkering with the environment, nor do they display much caution. They just let humanity do its thing and watches as this small civilization attempts to get by in the ruins of a once beautiful city. Mostly set in the confines of the small backyard of the couple, occasionally they set their sights to the sky and show the occasional crushed house structure, and a beautiful orange sky touched by the remaining street lights.
The folks in Kamp Katrina merely just attempt to survive by rebuilding houses, collecting food that drifted from stores along the ground, and try to get along as the strict David sits in his office judging folks, handing out wages, and ensuring a clean environment. The team of Redmon and Sabon never really shy away from the horrible aftermath of Katrina, showing vacant refrigerators, houses that still carry the scent of the dead, and powerful images of vandalism and graffiti.
As they drive down the streets of New Orleans, vacant cars litter the roads like fossils, and houses stand in sheer turmoil almost identical to the chasms in third world countries, as only a few of the remnants of this city ride around looking for old stores and merchandise they can live off of at the Kamp, and inevitably claustrophobia and tensions take hold. Soon, the promises are broken, the trust is shattered, and battles ensue.
The only real guiding hope in the entire piece of land is the eccentric Ms. Pearl, a woman who is wise in her years, and acts as a moral center, while dressing up in costumes like a bodily function, and attempting to keep her emotions in check. She and David are complete opposites, and yet work well as the guardians of these people. And the entire time Ms. Pearl never loses her smile.
The team of Redmon and Sabon put on display an interesting statement on civilization, and how extremely difficult it may be to rebuild this city, when it’s so excruciating for a house occupied by a little under twenty denizens to get by a day without a fist fight. They never interrupt, and they never try to gauge emotions, and through this they just allow events to unfold to show how tough it is in the face of crises, and potential starvation, to keep a small group tightly knit, and productive in the wastelands.
“Kamp Katrina” is not a film that will fill you with hope, and inspire you to believe in humanity once again. You will not leave theaters or your room with a fulfilled sense of faith, and trust in your fellow man, because at the end of the day, New Orleans still lies in ruins and the struggles to rebuild it and to survive continue at this moment.
And humanity doesn’t always prevail.