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Katrina Through The Eyes of Dudes: A Review of “A Corner of Her Eye”

Amy Wolf Nov 14, 2006

Katrina Flood 006A Corner of Her Eye
A Film By Konrad Aderer
Showing Friday, November 17, at 8pm, ABC No Rio
156 Rivington Street (between Clinton/Suffolk Streets)

Catching it on tape is an American tradition. So is drinking beer when you can’t do anything else. Filmmaker Konrad Aderer and his brothers are stuck inside their dad’s house 22 feet above sea level and about a mile off shore in the eye of the most devastating hurricane in American history. Reality seems too much like a reality show for the first half of the doc, with Cribs kitchen pan-ins on the beer-filled fridge. The brothers provide choice insights on dad’s use of Hurricane Katrina as part of his larger Psyops training program for his sons. Themes such as: Are you going to pussy out, or are you going to take it like man? and “What kind of action does this bitch got,” emerge. Fear comes into the fore as the brothers brace themselves with their weather.com, beers and each other. . . and the kayak.

The footage gets very tense as the camera documents the rapid rise of the water line on the SUV out front. This amazing footage provides a strong narrative structure and is amplified craftfully with background alarm noise and ambient panic.

But like water off a duck’s back, the gravity of the situation doesn’t seem to stick to the brothers in the aftermath of the storm. Nor does it seem to inspire them to go find others who need help. As the water rushes out, the boys fire up the grill and wait out their days of glorious anarchy with guns at the ready. There is a sense of reigning victorious over the flood and celebrating with burgers. No one got hurt, the boys get a natural-disaster badge from dad, and hell, it wasn’t even their house to rebuild. It is only after the shock and giddiness of surviving an ambush has faded that this film brings in the element of reflection.

This documentary starkly and unapologetically exhibits how young, cavalier teenagers react to natural disaster. The filmmaker chose to exclude any characters but his family members, mirroring the isolation they sought during the storm.

Unlike other docs on the aftermath of Katrina, Alderer chose not to blame FEMA or the Bush administration. In fact at one point one of the brothers confesses that if he had listened to the government he wouldn’t be in this mess.

I admire the filmmaker for not trying to reconstruct the weathering of his band of brothers through a martyrizing lens. Instead he shows his family in all of its humbling regularity. It feels tragically common to watch the brothers try to laugh-off their father’s wishes for them to feel as “alive” as he did fighting in Vietnam. The brothers do, at one point, pose with their guns, but these soft city boys continue to seek dad’s approval; gauging their fathers love by the flood lines on the walls of his salvaged home.

One Response

  1. As one of the brothers (me) reflects in the film…”maybe it’s a man thing.” This is a graphic, visceral hand-held experience of three brothers, driven by their father’s bravado, foolishly taking on a “bitch” named Katrina and getting their asses kicked.

    With so much human tragedy, politics and social issues still swirling around Katrina, a first-hand story of three callow young guys riding her out in a semi-concious bid for their dad’s approval may confuse or offend media-trained sensibilities. But people who have gone through Katrina or similar situations, and people involved in volunteer efforts, have responded well to the documentary as an up-close, scary and refreshingly real experience of an epic hurricane, and I believe others will too.

    In editing this film I’ve been assuming that a year after the storm people have seen the TV coverage, social-issue docs, and Weather Channel programs on Katrina. Nothing wrong with those, but there’s no shortage of that kind of coverage and that’s simply not what “A Corner of Her Eye” is. I have to say that the above reviewer, while insightful, seems to segue from critiquing the documentary to critiquing me and my brothers. God forgive us for cooking ourselves some hamburgers after almost getting washed away by the storm surge rolling through our dad’s house!

    With the cavalier attitude we display in this doc it may be easy to forget that we and especially our dad were “victims” of the storm ourselves. In the days after Katrina destroyed our neighborhood, it took a lot of work simply to feed ourselves and make the ravaged house habitable. I see that I need to explain in the aftermath section that a 35-foot storm surge results in not having power or running water, and the fact that we weren’t able to drive anywhere in that SUV you see going completely under water. No phone either. And MiniDV tapes were in fairly short supply. I thought these things were obvious, but I suppose for some viewers I need to put that across more. But again, volunteers who’ve seen the doc have found it refreshing that we don’t make a big deal out of what we went through.

    I see that it takes a lot of effort to clarify a story from all angles. I’m glad the reviewer recognized that a lot of care and craft has gone into this doc already, and gets a lot of what I intended.

    I did not choose to include coverage of how each of us did in fact reach out to help others both in the aftermath and after we returned to New York. I felt it would be self-congratulatory, if not smarmy, and again, it’s not what the documentary is about. However, I’ve used this short as a means to raise money to help rebuild the homes and lives still dealing with Katrina’s impact…not just in New Orleans but all across the Gulf Coast.

    As a partner for Habitat for Humanity I’m offering DVDs to people who make a donation to Habitat for at least $20. It takes just a few minutes. Go to the webpage for A Corner of Her Eye for details:

    A Corner of Her Eye
    http://www.lifeorliberty.org/Konrad/archives/000137.html#more

    I have a trailer for “A Corner of Her Eye” up on that webpage in Quicktime, and also at::

    Youtube
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUenv4G5hlQ

    Google Video
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2557417320862343178&pr=goog-sl

    And for anyone who’s interested, there’s a Tribeca Tribune article on us:

    Tribeca Tribune article
    http://tribecatrib.com/newsoct05/downtown-relief-effort.htm#awayfromhome

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