Katrina Babies director Edward Buckles Jr. was 12 when Hurricane Katrina changed everything. Now a filmmaker and media instructor in New Orleans, Buckles has found common cause—and shared trauma—with young people whose lives were similarly shaped by the storm. The film’s interview subjects were between 3 and 19 years old when the storm hit: Some stayed in New Orleans, and were pulled from churning, filthy waters after days of fear and hunger. Others fled the city, living in poisonous FEMA trailers and wondering if they’d ever be able to go home.
Katrina Babies employs a lively mix of documentary styles, capturing both the unique, joyful flavor of Black culture in the Crescent City and the nightmarish conditions on the ground in the aftermath of the storm. Buckles’ connection to his subjects is palpable, and he adds a personal element by asking his own parents and cousins for their Katrina memories. One young woman breaks down mid-interview, explaining that she’s never talked about this before. “Why?,” Buckles asks. “Because nobody ever asked me,” she replies. Katrina Babies tells the story of a forgotten, displaced, furious—and yes, resilient— generation in their own words.--Karen McMullen