Michigan native Tom McPhee hits a homerun with “An American Opera”… a documentary that is so moving and so powerful … but at the same time neutral and not a heavy-handed message piece… a true documentary that opens your eyes to part of the Hurricane Katrina disaster that most of us only heard about.
“An American Opera” drops us right in the disaster zone that is Louisiana, and the audience stays there through the heartbreaking, yet motivating stories that came out of the effort to rescue as many pets as possible.
As Director/Producer McPhee told me weeks before the screening at Waterfront Film Festival, he originally went to Gonzales, Louisiana to “answer the call” and help out the people in that community. But as we see in the opening scenes that set the stage for the documentary, his plan to to help out by taking still photographs of the displaced pets and creating a catalog of them became more than a small task… the rescue of abandoned/missing/lost pets BEFORE the storm hit was a big task… that becomes monumental AFTER the storm.
Complimented by a supercharged soundtrack, McPhee does a fabulous job of staying “zoomed out” to give us the big picture while systematically “zooming in” his film to the small, but impactful personal stories that came out of the disaster. He really hits home while weaving in the story of one couple separated from their pet and the challenges they go through.
And that’s why I’m warning you on two fronts… this movie is emotionally gripping, and weeks later, the stirring emotions and difficult images are still with me… but they are emotions and images that may be difficult for you to ignore because they are inspiring and motivating and remind us that there are still people out there trying to make the world a better place… even for our four-legged friends!!!
For that and the efforts of the subjects of this film to rescue 25,000 pets… this truly is the greatest pet rescue ever…. and one of the best documentaries I have seen in years.
THE BOTTOM LINE: