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Refuge of Last Resort - The true Hurricane Katrina Story
Refuge of Last Resort - The true Hurricane Katrina Story
Actors: James L. Bills, Tracey Bills, Gabriel Black, Ariel Pietrello, Frankie Riley
Director: James L. Bills
Genres: Special Interests, Documentary
NR     2006     1hr 1min

This no holds documentary chronicles the days before, during and after Hurricane Katrina. Told from the viewpoint of several families stuck in New Orleans, this moving and unflinching story says so much by saying so little...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: James L. Bills, Tracey Bills, Gabriel Black, Ariel Pietrello, Frankie Riley
Director: James L. Bills
Genres: Special Interests, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Special Interests, Documentary
Studio: Anthem Pictures
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen
DVD Release Date: 12/05/2006
Original Release Date: 01/01/2006
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2006
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 1hr 1min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Katrina documentary
Daniel B. Clendenin | | 01/26/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Stranded in a New Orleans hotel with a group of five adults and four children, film maker James Bills put his camera to good use in his native city. In this one-hour documentary, with no stock footage at all, he records the city before, during, and mainly after Hurricane Katrina hit on August 29, 2005. Even today, seeing his film, it is hard to comprehend the terrifying power, destructive force, and catastrophic flooding of the storm. Bills interviews a handful of citizens and with understated narration lets them tell their stories. The bald lies and gross incompetence of local, state, and especially the federal government loom large. "It has changed me forever," reminisced one woman. "I will never depend upon the government for anything. You're on your own." A recent article in the New York Times suggested that 18 months later, New Orleans's population has probably topped out at less than half of its pre-hurricane size."
Hurricane Katrina
M. LaChance | MO | 08/30/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I'm going to make this very brief. Everyone should see this film. It may open their eyes to what's going on in this country. This film shows what the MAIN STREAM MEDIA doesn't want you to see. The nightmare that so many lived through was heartbreaking. How can we be on the other side of the world in 2 days to help tidal wave victims, but can't do anything in our own country, for our own people until 5 days after the levees broke! UNACCEPTABLE!!! Many people stranded were sick, elderly, and poor who just did not have the means to get out or any place to go if they were to get out. Read my words, they didn't have a choice!"
Behind the Scenes
Leo Navarr | Donner Pass, California | 11/02/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"What makes this film great on the "outside" is that there is no stock footage. What makes it interesting are the stories behind the scenes of flooded roads and floating debris. Interviews with people that tell the stories you won't ever hear on your local news channel. The story of the happenings between the Police, Fire Department and flooded homeowners was very interesting. One main point the film does a good job about is showing the logistical nightmare that was going on, and how the facts were misrepresented. With this kind of simple, no nonsense approach, the film cannot really be contrived as some sort of "one sided" documentary. Bringing out what the people were told (Fema will be there right away) and what actually happened is pretty self explanatory. Some of the false hope that surrounded the superdome, and the actual incidents that occurred, are pretty daunting. Overall I found it very informative, and any lack of coverage of a particular theme that has come out of Katrina, is only because this man was not able to be there, but the overall coverage and narration is well done. By showing that help was promised and never arrived, it shed more light on the anarchy of the situation."
A powerful personal account of the Katrina disaster
Daniel Jolley | Shelby, North Carolina USA | 09/16/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Hurricane Katrina: Refuge of Last Resort is a very personal look at the chaos that ensued in New Orleans in the aftermath of the 2005 mega-storm. It would certainly seem to accurately reflect the colossal failure of local, state, and federal governments to respond to the crisis in anything approaching an acceptable manner, offering many a poignant moment along the way. It also shows how some New Orleans residents failed to take the hurricane seriously, as we see that Bourbon Street was not exactly closed for business even as the rain and wind of the storm arrived in the city. James L. Bills was one of many people who did not evacuate the city (he says the mayor's warning came too late, as if you need a public official to tell you the mother of all storms is heading right for you). Instead, he holed up with his family in one of the larger hotels in town. What we see in this personal documentary is the state of affairs in New Orleans over the next few days, as he wandered around the city with video camera in hand. This is all private footage that has not been seen elsewhere.

I was surprised at how little footage there was of the sights and sounds of the hurricane itself, but Bills' camera shows us scene after scene of devastation in the hours and days afterward. We can see a noticeable police presence in the immediate aftermath that disappears long before the National Guard finally rolls in on Day 4. By far the most powerful images, though, are those of hundreds if not thousands of people waiting in disorganized lines for hours and hours outside the trash-riddled Superdome and elsewhere - waiting for long-delayed buses that would take them who knows where for who knows how long. Even as the rescue mission starts up in earnest, saving victims from rooftops and attics, untold numbers of people wait in dire conditions in and around the very airport serving as the staging ground for those rescue efforts. Just in case anyone doubts the inefficiency and unprepared nature of government relief efforts, Bills films truckloads of portable toilets being delivered in and around the convention center - several hours after the place had finally been evacuated.

The images speak for themselves, but the video also includes a number of ordinary citizens recounting the ordeals they went through just to find food and water in the increasingly lawless days preceding the arrival of outside help, the suffering they endured standing in line for hours with little or no information after that help arrived, and the sights of human suffering and misery they witnessed, particularly among the young and elderly, in the unbearably hot and humid conditions.

As poignant a story as this video tells, though, one must keep in mind that it is not an objective look at the whole situation. I'm not discounting the great toll of personal tragedy that ensued in New Orleans following Katrina, but I must say that a number of the comments from Bills as well as those interviewed are not necessarily true. We hear a lot of the rumors and hearsay that fueled the media's shamefully sensationalistic coverage of the tragedy. There is no denying, though, that Bills' film offers viewers a small taste of the misery the poor people of New Orleans needlessly suffered at the hands of FEMA and other ineptly run government agencies who clearly failed them and all of America."