Edward Buckles screens Katrina documentary seven years in the making


Mark Wollemann

Audience points to Edward Buckles Jr. after Q & A segment for a picture.

Edward Buckles Jr. waits for Northwestern State University of Louisiana students and Natchitoches residents inside Varnado Hall’s ballroom to screen his documentary “Katrina Babies.”

Buckles has visited NSU to participate in Melody Gilbert’s documentary screenings with the Department of New Media, Journalism and Communication Arts. Gilbert is a professor in the department and an independent documentary filmmaker in charge of the documentary screening series.

Although this is not his first screening of the film or the last, Buckles greets everyone with kindness and excitement. His personality shines through with every interaction, whether he is talking to a camera, a person or an audience.

“As soon as I got off the plane in Shreveport, the people, the hospitality, the kindness, the way that we rally around ours. That reminds me of home,” Buckles said.

A New Orleans native, Buckles is a filmmaker, director, producer, writer and artist. “Katrina Babies” is a film he’s been working on for seven years as a way of contributing to his community.

During his college years at Dillard University, Buckles got the idea of the story he wanted to tell and a story that was personal to him.

“I was introduced to documentary filmmakers through personal films. I would come inside [my house] and I would see my dad watching documentaries and it was all about personal stories,” Buckles said. “It was about people seeing something in their communities, in their worlds, and attempting to change it.”

As a Katrina baby himself, Buckles wanted to explore the journey the children of Hurricane Katrina experienced after the storm. The impact of Katrina went beyond the flooding and damages, it changed the city forever, he said.

He also felt that the coverage of Hurricane Katrina in the media was portraying a different story from the one New Orleans experienced. Through this documentary, Buckles learned how to tell his own story.

“It is possible to take back a narrative,” Buckles said. “It is possible to retell your story the right way.”

For the first five years of this documentary journey, it was just him.

“It was just me and my camera and my small microphone,” Buckles said.

According to Buckles, he focused on his story and worked on developing the story before he worried about anything else.

“You can take what you have, and who you have and make an HBO documentary,” Buckles said.

He advises aspiring filmmakers to not get lost while they are filming the journey. While telling a story other plots may arise, and he warns these aspiring filmmakers not to forget about the story.

“I’m telling the story about Hurricane Katrina, I’m telling the story about the whole city of New Orleans, I’m juggling politics, resource allocation, race and on top of that I’m trying to be a filmmaker,” Buckles said. “But I just stayed true to the story, and then everything else came.”

Since the release of “Katrina Babies,” Buckles has gone to various screenings around the nation and the world. However, he reminds himself about the help he would have wanted while initially making his film, which is why he chooses to come to screenings at universities offering documentary classes to inspire others, he said.

He wants aspiring artists and filmmakers to know that passion and perseverance are important to make something transformative.

“If you put all of that energy and all of your heart and your work into your story, everything else will come,” Buckles said.

To watch the “Katrina Babies” news package about the documentary screening from KLAX -TV, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yL36wOum-L4.