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Robert, Mary, and Katrina
Directed by Marjoleine Boonstra
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film stillThis remarkable documentary provides a compelling, first-person, moment-by-moment oral history of how one New Orleans family survived Hurricane Katrina, one of the deadliest, and certainly the costliest, hurricanes in American history. When the city's levees were breached, 80% of the city was flooded, resulting in the death by drowning or the disappearance of several thousand residents.

In ROBERT, MARY AND KATRINA, husband and wife Robert and Mary Manuel, aged 72 and 70, respectively, relate details of their harrowing experience. As the water rapidly rose, and after placing five futile calls to 911, the couple, their daughter, sons, and three infant grandchildren, ascended a ladder through the ceiling of their home and for more than a day perched precariously on its wooden frame. They were eventually rescued by boat and deposited on a highway overpass, and later taken by helicopter to a bus, which took them out of the city.

Some days later, safe in their shelter 80 miles north of New Orleans, this loving, long-married couple, in an extended, emotionally animated conversation, discuss their frightening brush with death. Even though their children have been dispersed to other states, Robert and Mary can safely laugh about their experience now, and their account is often laced with humor and repeated expressions of gratefulness to all those who helped in their rescue.

Today, long after the hurricane and the subsidence of the flood waters in New Orleans, Katrina continues to generate debate about the racial and economic divisions that plague the United States. As Robert notes at one point, "The storm has a tendency to divide this country." ROBERT, MARY AND KATRINA, although just one story out of thousands from New Orleans, serves to personalize the human toll of this natural disaster and the failure of our government to adequately respond to either the storm's expected arrival or its devastating aftermath.

"Highly Recommended! Extremely powerful! For those of us fortunate enough to escape the tragedies of Katrina, it is difficult to put ourselves in the survivors' shoes. ROBERT, MARY, AND KATRINA takes us as close to those experiences as humanly possible. In true form of an oral history, Robert and Mary's story of struggle and survival from the wrath of Katrina grips the audience's emotions and takes them on a rollercoaster journey of fear, shock, laughter, sadness, pride, despair, and hope. Through their animated, yet horrific, memories of the day the levees broke, witnesses to Robert and Mary's interview can almost place themselves in the terrifying situation that this family had to endure."—Educational Media Reviews Online

" * * * [3 stars]! Recommended! Humor and vivid descriptions reveal an intimate side... not often presented in the media. Compelling!"—Video Librarian

""A solid oral history… This is a good choice for libraries wishing to have first-person accounts of the disaster."—Library Journal

2006 Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival
2006 Rotterdam International Film Festival
2005 Amsterdam International Documentary Festival
2007 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival

42 minutes / Color
Release: 2006
Copyright: 2006

For colleges, universities, government agencies, hospitals and corporations

This DVD is sold with a license for institutional use and Public Performance rights.

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