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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, January 6, 2006

Film takes hard look at impact of Katrina

By Stacey Plaisance
Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS, La. Gripping his trumpet, Irvin Mayfield talks about growing up on Music Street and how his father taught him to play. The jazz musician also discusses his decision to evacuate before Hurricane Katrina and his father's choice not to and the long wait his family endured before learning Irvin Mayfield Sr. had drowned.

"This is something we're not going to be able to heal from, as a city, for a long time," Mayfield tells New Orleans filmmaker Stephen Rue, president of the Motion Picture and Television Association of Louisiana.

It's part of more than 135 hours of interviews Rue collected and plans to release as a 130-minute documentary. Rue wants the film to give a comprehensive view of Katrina's effects as told by the people who experienced it.

The film, which he's financing himself, should be finished by mid-March, he said.

With countless film and TV crews in and out of the city since Katrina, among them a crew working with filmmaker Spike Lee, Rue said he has something they don't extensive footage just weeks before the storm from the now-destroyed Lower 9th Ward.

Rue was shooting footage in the neighborhoods there for a Habitat for Humanity project. That neighborhood, one of the city's poorest, was wiped out by a levee breach at the Industrial Canal.

"We probably have some of the last video footage from there," the filmmaker said. "I think about the many, many people we met. I wonder if they made it, wonder where they are now."

Since the storm, he has traveled to several states to interview evacuees. But much of his post-storm coverage has been in New Orleans with people such as Mayfield, founder of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, to document the storm for historical purposes.

"It's a tapestry of stories by those affected," Rue said.

Whatever's left once the documentary is complete may be used in a cable TV series covering various aspects of the disaster, including racial issues and animal rescue efforts, Rue said.