DFT Documentaries

Before the screening of the documentary Mine at the Detroit Film Theatre on February 6, 2010, the film’s producer, Erin Essenmacher, said that she didn’t want to say much because she wanted the movie to speak for itself.

After this poignant and moving exploration of the search for pets that were lost during Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005, both Essenmacher and the DFT audience continued the experience of the film by speaking for themselves during a Question and Answer session.

Essenmacher said she originally resisted the idea of making this film, but later changed her mind. “What happened to those animals is basically a metaphor for what happened to those people,” she said.

A man asked about the interstate laws for recovering pets. Essenmacher answered that it’s covered by the property laws of each state. In Louisiana, you had three years to recover property.

The challenge of the film was taking individual stories and telling a bigger story. “Each of those five stories is symbolic of hundreds more,” said Essenmacher. She added, “These people were pretty clear early on…these people kind of emerged.” She noted that you have to be “brutal” in the choices of what to cover, and also in the editing.

It took about four years to make the movie. The director, Geralyn Pezanoski, was in New Orleans about four weeks after Hurricane Katrina. The producer and director took about 14-15 trips to New Orleans. The budget was $500,000. The director mainly financed it on her own, which, Essenmacher noted, is how a lot of independent films are financed.

Essenmacher talked about the Pet Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act that was passed about a year after Hurricane Katrina. She said that Mine helped one of the people in the film get their dog back.

An audience member said it was good to be among so many animal lovers, and that was the kind of group to come up with a rescue plan. Essenmacher said the web site for the film had information about pet rescue plans.

Essenmacher, who is from Michigan, was introduced by DIA Film Curator Elliot Wilhelm, who noted that Mine was the opening film in a series of documentaries that will be shown “on many Saturday afternoons at 4 o’clock.”

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Copyright © 2010 by Robert Hollberg Smith, Jr.

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