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Film screening, band performances aimed to help with healing from Katrina

A Mississippi Gulf Coast resident will host a public screening in Biloxi tomorrow of his film to help with the healing process for victims of Hurricane Katrina.

The film, “Katrina Diary,” started out as a horror film that turned into a mockery of the storm, then grew into a serious documentary of the destruction and hardships Mississippi Gulf Coast residents went through.

“It started out in a sarcastic manner at first never thinking it was going to come, then wouldn’t you know it, it ripped my house to shreds,” said J. Justin Pearce creator of “Katrina Diary.”

The horror film idea died when the owner of the home being used was boarded it up to prepare for the storm, so Pearce said he focused his attention to the mockery prediction film of the storm, which later turned into “Katrina Diary”.

Most of the footage in the film was filmed by Pearce, with the exception of the actual storm footage, which was used from video shot by four other local videographers in four different locations, Pearce said. The film includes footage recorded by Darryl Mclean, who filmed the Hard Rock Cafe off of U.S. 90; Nathan Stanley, who filmed the D’Iberville area; David and Sandra Palmer, who filmed their house in Ocean Springs, and Agust Taconi who filmed the events of the storm from a boat in Parks Landing, Pearce said.

The film, which received honorable mention in the Twin Rivers Media Festival held in Asheville, N.C., begins with Pearce’s evacuation then cuts to the donated storm footage and then to Pearce’s testimony and resident interviews, he said.

Relief efforts, montages of homes before and after the storm and individual interviews are interwoven into a tear-jerking experience, Pearce said.

The public screening of the film was prompted by his desire to share his work a year later with those most affected by the storm.

“As we are nearing the year anniversary of (Hurricane Katrina), I figured it would be good for the community to come together,” Pearce said. “We all began the chapter together. I figured we should all close it together.”

Pearce said he bought the equipment to produce his movie before the storm after he graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi with a Mass Communication major which covered minors in film, television, journalism and radio. Various computer programs, a computer, video camera, sound equipment and sound equipment were all used in production of the film, Pearce said.

Not only will the public be treated to the film, but Picayune musicians, the Dilla Blues Band, will perform at the showing of Pearce’s movie, said band member Armond Lee. Lee said he also will be involved with sound production for the Katrina Diary Festival and the film as well as promoting the event. The film should have something to offer viewers, even those who watched the local news regularly, Lee said.

“It’s got a lot of footage channel 13 didn’t have,” Lee said about the movie. “It’s got a really good story, the kid’s really good.”

Various booths and food will be available at the family oriented event, Lee said. Vending space is still available for those interested in becoming part of the event. Interested parties can get more information by calling Pearce at 228-297-8911, Lee said.

The film screening and band performances will be at the Biloxi Town Green across from the Isle of Capri. The show will begin at 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 25, with live band performances from Rhythm and Rain, Harmony and Grits, The Dilla Blues Band and others, Lee said. The screening of The Katrina Diary is scheduled to begin at sun down. The Dilla Blues Band will feature their new song entitled “Roll on Mississippi,” which will be heard by the public for the first time, Lee said.