Hurricanes Katrina, Irene, and Isaac: Award-Winning Movies, TV Shows, and Books Inspired by Stormy Weather

As the Valley keeps an eye on Hurricane Isaac — seven years after Katrina and one year after Irene — we think about the films, television, and novels inspired by these storms

Right now, all eyes are on Hurricane Isaac rolling through the Gulf Coast, seven years after Hurricane Katrina and a year after we had to deal with Hurriane Irene — memories of that cleanup effort are still fresh. (Click here to read our feature story — and see before and after photos — of the destruction and rebuilding efforts in Greene County.) We’re crossing fingers, knocking wood, and hoping that Isaac leaves with minimal damage.

Once it does, though, it just might provide some inspiration. Even though it’s been years, artists are still processing what happened in New Orleans with Katrina through their movies, music, books, and TV shows — and awards-worthy ones, too. Some examples:

Beasts of the Southern Wild
This lyrical, dreamy film, directed by Hastings-on-Hudson native Benh Zeitlin, lit up Sundance when it premiered there earlier this year and came home with the Grand Jury Prize. While not directly about Katrina, the fable does take place in “a southern Delta community” that’s plagued with rising water. Beasts of the Southern Wild is still playing in theaters, but you’ll probably have to travel to the city to see it.

When it debuted in 2010, Treme — David Simon’s HBO series about residents of New Orleans rebuilding after Katrina — was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series and Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics (by Steve Earle). When it debuted, Slant wrote that the show “puts everything into every scene. The camerawork is rich and the direction squeezes every nuance from the actors. The city’s history has been painstakingly researched and effortlessly inserted into the writing.” The third season premieres on September 23.

salvage the bones

Salvage the Bones
After its publication last year, Jesmyn Ward’s novel came home with the National Book Award. Like Beasts of the Southern Wild, it’s another lyrical take on Hurricane Katrina, this time following Skeetah, a pregnant 14-year-old, and her family. The New York Times says the book “feels fresh and urgent, but it’s an ancient, archetypal tale. Think of Noah or Gilgamesh or any soggy group of humans and dogs huddled together, waiting out an apocalyptic act of God or weather.”

» More from Poptional Reading


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About This Blog

Marisa LaScala

Marisa LaScala
Elmsford, NY

Associate Editor Marisa LaScala joined Westchester magazine in 2003, and ever since she's blown every paycheck at the Greenburgh Multiplex. She also staunchly defends Richard Kelly, doesn't mind spoiling the endings of trashy movies you're curious about but don't want to pay to see, wishes the Hold Steady would come back and rock out Westchester, misses Arrested Development more than anyone can imagine, and still watches cartoons and Saturday Night Live. You can find more of her cultural criticism at, where she is a staff writer.



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