You Can't Go Home Again

Dallas' Connie Tipado, who took in dozens of Katrina evacuees

Local filmmaker Ginny Martin spent the past two years exploring the impact of Hurricane Katrina through the lens of one African-American family. She followed them as they tried to find their way after losing their homes and community when the storm destroyed St. Bernard Parish, where their forebears had lived since before the Civil War.

The result debuts on KERA-Channel 13 tonight at 8: Still Waiting: Life After Katrina is a profound portrait of loss, Creole culture and the unifying spirit of family. At the center of the film is Connie Tipado, who helped some 150 New Orleans relatives after the storm and at one point had 48 of them living in her Dallas home. "They thought they were coming for one or two days," she says. "It didn't happen like that."

Within a year, most of the family returned to Louisiana to make do in a neighborhood that still looked like a disaster zone and lacked basic infrastructure and services. Living in FEMA trailers, with few black-owned businesses to employ them or familiar churches to soothe them, some wondered if going home was a futile attempt to recapture a past that will never exist again. Colorful, real and heartbreaking, the film captures a sense of home and community rarely experienced in the United States, and chronicles a historic culture as it struggles to preserve itself.

"Connie and her family's story says a lot about our own humanity," Martin, a two-time Emmy Award-winning documentary director, says in a media release. "Ultimately, the film is not just about one storm, one place, one family -- but about how we see each other and how we are there for each other -- or not -- and how we survive, especially in a time of crisis." --Megan Feldman

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