Director’s Statement on Repass
When I was a child I lost my parents, but not in the way that people expect. My parents separated, but it was not an amicable separation. It was a violent and tumultuous event that I have struggled to navigate through even as an adult. When Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, I discovered a parallel between this calamity and my own. I recognized my own sorrow in their profound loss. I discovered I had never confronted this tragedy in my life—and I realized I had never grieved for the loss of my family.
When we lose anything we value, we need to grieve. Grief is a unique and requisite, process to moving on, healing, and hoping. When we do not allow ourselves to grieve, something within us stops growing and dies. In writing this story I learned that grief is as natural and fundamental as living itself. I knew that I had to grieve my own loss to live creatively.
The Repass is a New Orleans tradition that celebrates the passing of a deceased one’s spirit into the next life. This unique tradition recognizes how precious life is by paying tribute to death’s place in that cycle. This story honors the Repass by revisiting the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina from the perspective of a child. Ten-year-old Marie is the daughter of Marianne and Boden Christophe and sister to twenty-month-old Etienne who is swept away by the flooding. In Marie I rediscovered the domestic rupture a child suffers when a loss affects a family. Marie must attempt to navigate a disintegrating home life as she struggles to understand what losing her brother means. Like the city, Marie and her family are torn apart by grief they do not know how to express; but they must learn how to grieve so they can begin to heal.
In “Repass” the audience experiences each emotional aesthetic from Marie’s perspective. As Marie travels through the physical city of New Orleans the audience witnesses not only the horror of Hurricane Katrina through isolating wide shots and harsh light, but also they witness the claustrophobic terror of watching her parents’ battles. The camera crawls in the daylight as they search for Etienne and chases Marie as she flees a decaying home and escapes to her nocturnal wonderland. Daylight in this film becomes fearsome in a story where everyone hides from the inevitable truth.
Much like the films, “I’m Not Scared” and “Pan’s Labyrinth,” reality becomes more terrifying than the nightmare. In the darkness Marie discovers hope in the serenity of the cemeteries and strength in the phantasmagorical voodoo dance sequences. Stillness creates dread while movement stirs our faith. Water transforms from a weapon of destruction to a tool of healing. Sound also plays an eminent role in the feature with the rhythms of New Orleans providing comfort while the silences of a fragmenting home and the noise of a city under construction distance us.
However, “Repass” is not only a story about Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans; it is a human story about the world’s tragedies and triumphs. By telling this story I want to compress the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina down to its most evocative images, so that “Repass” might provoke an audience to recognize and explore grief in this and every crisis, whether it is a hurricane, a tsunami, an earthquake or even the loss of a home, a relationship or a loved one. We grieve for all of these things because they have meaning for us; that grief needs to be recognized. Therefore we have established The Effrayant Grief Project, a grief curriculum for youth and educators, in conjunction with Repass and the support of various community and humanitarian organizations. The Effrayant Grief Project will help children and their parents learn to recognize the many different stages (denial, bargaining, anger, etc.) and ways people grieve around the world. If we can learn to grieve, we can learn to heal.
© Wicked Lovely Films, 2009
Designed by Melissa Rourke