MINE is a heart-wrenching yet redemptive story about the pets of Hurricane Katrina. At its core, it's an exploration of the bond between people and animals and how that bond is intensified in the face of tremendous tragedy and loss.
This feature-length documentary is told from the perspective of original guardians, rescuers, and adoptive parents of “Katrina pets.” These individuals are all connected by two things, the tragic aftermath of Katrina and their love of animals.
MINE presents the complexity of an intensely emotional situation that has no simple answers.
A tragedy of this scale reveals the worst and brings out the best in humankind and presents an opportunity for meaningful social change. A meditation on human more than animal nature, MINE is a compelling, character-driven story that challenges us see the way we treat animals in our society as an extension of how we treat each other.
Audience Award Best Documentary - SXSW Film Festival 2009
Audience Award Best Film - San Francisco DocFest 2009
Director & Producer
Co-Founder of Smush Media, Geralyn Pezanoski has 12 years of experience in film and video production and makes her feature directorial debut with MINE. Film producing credits include the narrative short, On A Tuesday (Santa Barbara & LAIFF) and Motherland (SXSW), and directing credits include the doc series Firehouse (Sony Pictures Entertainment). She lives in San Francisco with her husband Peter and their dog Nola.
Erin Essenmacher is a writer, director and producer with over 10 years of experience in corporate, non-profit and broadcast production with a strong focus on documentary. Credits include a wide range of independent and broadcast documentary projects for PBS, The Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, The History Channel and Court TV. Erin splits her time between the San Francisco Bay Area and New York City.
Jen is a Bay Area editor with years of post-production experience in feature and broadcast documentary projects. Her work has been broadcast on PBS, Current TV and MTV's Logo Network and has screened at film festivals around the world. Jen's recent documentary credits include the evocative series The Monastery for The Learning Channel and Boys in Winter, which won Best Documentary at the New York Independent Film Festival.
Director of Photography
Jason Rhein is a director of photography and media producer based out of New Orleans, where he is currently working as Music Producer & Supervisor for Playhouse Disney’s Imagination Movers series, and Technical Director for the nationally syndicated public radio-show American Routes. Film credits include Sound Designer on the documentary Member of the Club, editor on the short Watermarks and camerawork on a number of other projects, including the short film Code 7.
Director of Photography
Arlo Rosner is an award-winning cinematographer, with a broad range of experience in commercials, music videos, narrative, documentary, and television. Arlo has a degree in film from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco and has won three Addy Awards and a gold statue at the 2005 Clio Awards. Recent credits include director of photography on the acclaimed feature documentary Beautiful Losers.
Alison is a freelance video producer passionate about documentary filmmaking. She was a 2007-2008 U.S. Fulbright Research Fellow to Hong Kong where she wrote and shot a short documentary, currently in post-production. She was the producer and assistant-editor of the narrative short Go Mom! which was in competition at the 2006 Austin Film Festival. She has assisted on projects for The National Geographic Channel and The Discovery Channel, as well as on the feature documentary Motherland.
When he heard a hurricane was coming, 86 year old New Orleans native, Malvin Cavalier, evacuated to the Super Dome. "I don't want to go to the dome, but I have to go - and they won't take pets," recounts an exasperated Malvin. He left his beloved companion Bandit with food and water and a promise that he'd return in a few days. Instead, Malvin was evacuated to Houston and spent the next several months wondering if he'd ever get back home to find Bandit. Finally able to return to a FEMA-issued trailer in New Orleans, Malvin searches for his dog with the help of an unlikely new friend, Sandra Bauer, a volunteer from Canada. They discover that Bandit is in Pittsburgh, but the rescue group refuses to provide any further information. While Sandra works the legal system trying to sue for Bandit's return, Malvin struggles to rebuild his life and his home.
With Katrina bearing down and twenty family members to evacuate, Jessie decided it was best to leave his dog J.J. at home. He never imagined they wouldn't be able to return for months. After an exhaustive search, Jessie discovered J.J. featured on Cesar Millan's "The Dog Whisperer.” On the program, a plea was made for the dog's owners to come forward. When Jessie tried to reclaim his pet, he was told it was too late. J.J. had already been adopted. Three years later Jessie still has not been reunited with his best friend.
Seventy-year old Gloria refused to evacuate without her lab, Murphy Brown, and was forcibly removed after days with no clean water and dwindling food supplies. Gloria and her pet were separated and though he was wearing tags and had paperwork, Murphy Brown got lost in the system and was sent to a shelter out of state. Gloria’s daughter and hundreds of volunteers around the country desperately search for Murphy Brown in hopes of reuniting him with a devastated Gloria for her 71st birthday.
Karen O'Toole has worked for years as a writer and production coordinator in Hollywood. Impassioned by TV images of the disaster, Karen – who “had never even rescued a goldfish before” – was one of a handful of rescuers to navigate her way into a submerged city, in a race against time to save thousands of animals trapped in houses and fighting to survive. Armed with a crowbar and pure tenacity, Karen embarks on a crusade that will last longer than she could have ever imagined.
Jeremy Mansfield found the perfect Christmas gift for his wife, Tiffany, at the local animal shelter – a Jack Russell terrier rescued after Hurricane Katrina. The Mansfields thought they were doing good by rescuing a "Katrina animal" – only to find themselves in the midst of a custody battle over their beloved pet when his original guardian comes forward to reclaim him. Now the couple struggles with the decision of whether they can part with the dog that has brought them so much joy.
An attorney in Texas, Randy is an animal advocate who is working pro bono on behalf of an adoptive family of a “Katrina pet.” His clients are being sued based on Louisiana property laws, which consider pets property and give original "owners" 3 years to reclaim their animals. "It's unfortunate that animals are being treated as property, that the animal has no rights,” he laments. “Someone needs to look at these cases and decide what's best for the animal. It's not about who's richer, who has a bigger yard, but there needs to minimum standards of care and based on what we know, we’re not prepared to say the dog is better off with her original owners.”