Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Intellectually, I know the beauty of a film festival is to see small films, those without distribution yet, documentaries and foreign films. I always have good intentions of puttting these things in my schedule, but for me, it's kinda like doing laundry - I love fashion and I want to wear clean clothes, but I don't feel like sorting the wash and going to the basement.
Seeing all the bigger, glitzy, star studded films, that yes, will be released in a couple of months, but I get to see them before the average movie-goer, is my favorite part of a film festival; this I compare to going shopping!
So to make my point, I wasn't going to see the documentary I Am Caroyln Parker: The Good, The Mad and the Beautiful, until I learned that noted filmmaker Jonathan Demme would be present for a Q & A.
I don't want to come across as desensitized and self-involved; but going into the theater, although excited about Demme, I was thinking, come on, yet another displaced Katrina victim - I'm tired of New Orleans reconstruction, the lower 9th Ward, the corruption, the politics, the destruction, the housing crisis... But if I'm tired of it, can you imagine how weary someone would be who truly has been living the nightmare for the last 5 or 6 years.
Which is why the documentary I Am Carolyn Parker is compelling, because Carolyn Parker was, and is, anything but weary. Her sense of humor, sense of pride and sense of madness makes for a fascinating character study. A woman determined to get back into her home and church. She didn't always know the way or the means, but she never stopped believing.
When Jonathan Demme started this project in 2006, he didn't have a plan for the documentary; he only felt compelled to want to lend a hand to the Katrina victims in some manner, so he did what he does best, took a camera to the lower 9th Ward and started shooting. Originally, the piece was going to feature several families who were trying to have their homes restored to livability, but obviously the other families didn't possess the presence of Carolyn Parker, who just took to the camera like she'd been being filmed her whole life. She has a way of expressing herself that is humorous, determined and unexpectedly wise all at once.
The film, shows the progress and more often defeats that Carolyn and her family endure over 5 years following Hurricane Katrina, with Demme and crew coming back several times a year to check in and get more footage.
Someone asked if he planned to continue to visit Carolyn now that the documentary is complete. He replied, he didn't have plans to go back. I wonder if that meant just no more plans to film her progress, or no more plans to see her? Because you truly got the feeling a genuine bond was created.
I'm including the link to the Q & A I uploaded to You Tube, but I warn you, other than flashes of light from photographers, Demme is in the dark through the entire conversation. However, the audio is good.