Film Movement DVD Review: Mine (2009)

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Whether it's in something as simple as the wag of a tail to share in happiness or as complicated as barking to alert an owner of trouble, dogs save our lives everyday. Yet when the devastating Hurricane Katrina ripped through New Orleans, the tragic fact of the matter was that owners weren't allowed to return the favor and save their pets' lives since shelters and hotels refused to allow them.

While a majority of the pets perished in the destruction as owners either had to be forcibly removed from their home without their pet or just leave them behind with food and water until they could return, volunteers from around the country flooded the scene to try and rescue as many animals as they possibly could. And although many would be euthanized as owners didn't return to claim their pets, 1,500 animals were sent to 500 shelters across the county for adoption.

While obviously anything is better than euthanasia, as filmmaker Geralyn Pezanoski (herself the owner of a Katrina dog named Nola) discovered in Mine, when New Orleans residents returned desperate to find their four-legged companions they faced the hard truth about what had happened to their dogs. Essentially, several were now in a situation where new adopted families had picked up the dogs for keeps and didn't intend on giving them back anytime soon.

And to a viewer, this all seems so simple as an example of the Golden Rule or the idea of sharing that we all learned when young -- namely that the new owners should rightfully return the dogs back to the people who've suffered so much. However, when race, class, and politics enter the equation over who believes they have the right and ability to give the dog a better home, we're in for quite an emotionally heartrending battle which is captured in this wonderfully compelling documentary.

From extensive interviews with Katrina evacuees to volunteers who came to the rescue – including some who turned on the people as one says that the storm was the best thing that could've happened for some of the malnourished and ill-treated dogs – and those who have spent their time calling shelters and owners to try and track down the pets of complete strangers thousands of miles away, Mine is a fascinating work.

Likewise, it's one that's tonally set in the gray area, proving that nothing is set in black and white even though ironically black and white may have been at the heart of the gray matter. And despite the fact that Geralyn Pezanoski's film runs a brisk eighty-one minutes (although the DVD does contain extra, very important footage to provide closure on one case), it's easy to get lost in the ethical war between the haves and the have nots, both of whom are debating over what makes something “mine” or when indeed it's “yours." Or, as this documentary reminds, when so many times issues go beyond mine and yours to “theirs,” as both parties involved just want what's best for the dogs they love that save their lives on a daily basis with a wag of a tail.

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FTC Disclosure: Per standard professional practice, I received a review copy of this title in order to evaluate it for my readers, which had no impact whatsoever on whether or not it received a favorable or unfavorable critique.