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Hurricane Katrina was one of the most devastating natural disasters to ever hit the United States, claiming over 1,800 lives and causing an estimated $82.1 billion in damages in August 2005. But people weren't the only victims of the storm; while rescue efforts attempted to evacuate families in Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida and other regions hit by Katrina, most were forced to leave their pets behind, and after the worst of the storm had passed, animal welfare workers from around the country traveled to the South and saved nearly 15,000 dogs and cats who were left behind. Many of these pets were adopted by new families who gave them loving homes, but this led to an unexpected dilemma -- when the former owners made their way back home to rebuild their homes and their lives, they wanted to be reunited with the pets that they'd raised and cared for. The new masters, however, were often reluctant to give up the pets that they'd come to love, leading to an emotional tug of war between two households who had a strong emotional connection to the same animal. Filmmaker Geralyn Pezanoski explores how many pets were ignored during the Katrina debacle and how some of these survivors are caught in the middle of angry custody battles in the documentary MINE, which received its world premiere at the 2009 South by Southwest Film Festival.
The best movie I saw during the week-long SXSW Film Festival! --Karen Valby,Entertainment Weekly
Absorbing! --Eddie Cockrell, Variety
WINNER, Audience Award --SXSW Film Festival
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Couple of comments: first, thank you to director Geralyn Pezanoski for bringing us this documentary. To see the stories of these utterly dependent animals will tug at your heart, if nothing else. The movie brings tremendous insights how much these pets mean to their human companions, and vice versa! I’ve had cats most of my adult life, and I think this movie will very much speak to any lover of cats or dogs. Second, the movie wisely stays away from any political commentary as to the rescue efforts post-Katrina, and remains focused solely on the pet aspects. Third, while some attention is given to cats, the overwhelming majority of the documentary (I’d say probably 90 percent) focuses on dogs. No idea why that is the case. But in the end it’s a minor quibble. Bottom line: “Mine” is a must-see movie for any dog or cat lover, and HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
“Mine” was released on DVD by Film Movement in 2010 as part of their DVD-of the Month Club of foreign and indie movies, and as such there is a bonus shortie on the DVD: “La Vie d’un Chien” (The Life of a Dog, 2006 release from the US; 13 min.) is an eye-popping black/white still-frame movie about a scientist in Paris in the early 60s who discovers a drug that allows humans to become dogs for a 12 hour span. I’m not going to say more, just watch it!
The first part is the immediate aftermath of the storm, when pet rescue organizations were coming into New Orleans and pulling animals out of abandoned houses. It is, of course, heartbreaking to see animals in distress. Some of those animals spent a long time alone on a roof or locked up in a house before they were rescued--some were emaciated, filthy, bug-ridden--but it is so wonderful to see them being rescued by people who truly care.
Next, the film discusses how the pets were distributed to shelters all around the country (quite amazing to see how many people and how many states were involved in this process). There was no system set up at the time for people to find their pets when they returned home; eventually, there was a system created but many of the pet owners didn't know about it or find out about it until a year or more later.
The last part of the film focuses on the frustrating and highly emotional situation that resulted when pets were adopted out to new homes and then the original owners finally found out how to find their dog...and the new owners often didn't want to return the pets. There were no laws at the time to handle this situation. The film focus on 4 or 5 families trying to find their dogs.
It is not as weepy as you might think, but it certainly is touching, especially those stories of the original owners who have finally found where their beloved pets are after 1-3 years only to learn that the new owners don't want to give them back. It was that part of the film that had me weeping, though I was very touched by all of the film.
As a dog owner, when I hear of a friend's dog dying or see/hear of any kind of pet trauma, there is always a part of my mind that is thinking "What if it were me? How would I feel if that was my dog?" This has never been more true than while I was watching Mine. The thought of being evacuated and not being allowed to take Missy, my Shih Tzu and best friend, was traumatizing enough...and then the thought of not being able to find her afterwards, or finding her and the people who had her not wanting to give her back...it was just too much to process. My heart ACHED for the people in the film who were going through this very thing.
I saw Mine as part of a small screening room audience vs. in a large theatre, and I'm very happy to have had that experience. It gave people in the audience the freedom to react vocally to what was going on in the film (and perhaps the freedom to cry more freely) and that made it even more of an intimate, special experience.
A lot of people tend to want to avoid seeing things that are difficult or emotional to watch. I urge you not to turn away from this, but to embrace it. It is through films like this that we learn...we find out what is wrong and perhaps help fix it. Mine tells a very important story...and it's important that we listen.
As rescuers we saw stupidity, evil and ugliness beyond belief, but much more often we saw good, good people who were treated very badly by people who beleive that poor people should not have pets. That THEY get to judge who should have pets. If only peole could be as clear about what is right and good as animals are the world would be a much better place. A dog doesn't care if it's person is black, white, rich or poor. LOVE is all that matters. People who lost everything they owned were refused the only things they really cared about-their animals.
When I get to be God I will mandate that everyone watch this film.