When it comes to films and TV shows about Hurricane Katrina, a few in particular tend to stick out. Most notably, Benh Zeitlin’s Oscar-nominated film Beasts of the Southern Wild and David Simon’s HBO series Treme, both of which were met with acclaim and warm critical receptions. Then there’s whacked-out action fare including Déjà Vu and Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, which use post-Katrina New Orleans to provide a gritty backdrop for their offbeat narratives. No list of Katrina films would be complete without David Fincher’s wildly divisive The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which incorporates Katrina’s landfall as a framing device for a melancholy story about the ravages of time, to mixed results. But few have seen or heard of Zack Godshall’s 2007 film Low and Behold, which was the first feature film to dramatize Katrina and which Sundance released on a slew of on-demand platforms on August 18 to mark the 10-year anniversary of the storm.
The film, which follows an insurance adjuster as he surveys the remains of New Orleans, was made in 2006, just eight months after Katrina made landfall, when the city was still struggling to pull itself out from under the rubble left by the failure of the levees. However, despite premiering at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival, Low and Behold never received an official theatrical or video release. So why should viewers see this obscure film now, 10 years after Katrina, if at all? Not only is the movie itself aesthetically stunning, but it’s also one of those rare commercial films about a large-scale tragedy that manages to express something true and meaningful without coming off as pandering or exploitative. It’s this balance that perhaps makes Low and Behold the best film about Hurricane Katrina that most people have never seen.