NEW YORK -- Taking a decidedly minimalist, human interest approach to the disaster that was Hurricane Katrina, Ashley Sabin and David Redmon's "Kamp Katrina" depicts the efforts of a couple of residents to set up a makeshift shelter in their back yard.
Unfortunately, the story doesn't quite have the feel-good aspect that might have been predicted. Indeed, the lower-class, displaced citizens who take up residence there prove to be a less than desirable lot with problems far beyond homelessness.
Still, one has to admire the efforts of contractor David Cross and his American Indian wife, known as Mrs. Pearl, to help those less fortunate than themselves. In the aftermath of the hurricane, they dubbed their home "Kamp Katrina" and soon had more than a dozen newly displaced people staying in their backyard. They included a mentally ill religious zealot who claimed to have an intimate relationship with Joan of Arc; a pregnant former crack addict falling back into her old ways; her abusive husband; petty criminals and the like. One day Mrs. Pearl is surprised to find a man in her shower, which prompts her to comment, "I don't want a naked man in my shower, unless he happens to be John Goodman."
Although the film's concerns are more personal than political, it does deal with the inevitable interference from city officials after Kamp Katrina's neighbors start complaining about the impromptu shelter.
The film ultimately is too tedious and meandering to have the desired impact, with its subject matter more appropriate for a short newsmagazine segment than a feature length documentary. It will no doubt serve as a footnote to the many other Katrina-themed films that will be examining the subject from a deeper perspective.