Shortly after the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Harvey this upcoming September, the locally shot and produced fictional film, Harvey, will be released. The film’s exploitation of tragedy in the hopes of seeking Hollywood renown is at the expense of Houstonians and the hardships they faced during Harvey.
Inspired by the heroism displayed during Hurricane Harvey, the film hopes to shed light on those who worked to help others during the storm and to display the hardships displaced individuals faced. Despite the positive intentions of the film, it is too soon to be capitalizing on this sensitive tragedy.
It is inappropriate to market tragedies such as Harvey when individuals are still negatively impacted. The effected communities deserve a voice in having the story of the storm that irrevocably changed their lives told.
Inspiration for the film
In a recent cover of the upcoming film Harvey by ABC13 news, Rick Ferguson, executive director of the Houston Film Commission, and Harvey producer Nkem DenChukwu discuss where the inspiration for the film came from. The idea stems from a worry of whether the “city’s film business would rebound” after the damages incurred by the storm.
Ferguson and DenChukwu both believe that Houston’s landscape is the backbone of its appeal. The cityscape and architectural structures make for versatile filming locations, and with a disaster like Harvey, such appeal was at risk of being permanently compromised.
However, the storm didn’t just take a significant toll on Houston’s filming locations; it also caused significant damage to the greater Houston area, displacing numerous families with severe flooding.
The release of Harvey fails to display consideration for the continued impact of the storm.
Other coverage of the tragedy
Harvey is not the only film that was inspired by the heroism displayed during Harvey. Multiple films since the tragedy have been produced and hope to tell a similar story, including a project by the Insurance Council of Texas.
In telling these stories, filmmakers can forget that Harvey’s impact lasts longer than a film’s running time for many individuals impacted by the storm.
The film’s release shows that these fictional interpretations of real loss and struggle are coming too soon after the tragedy for families that have experienced significant loss. A film like Harvey being released only a year after the initial damage may invoke trauma that has yet to be healed for many impacted by the storm.
In banking on this tragic event, the filmmakers turn the loss and struggle of a community into a profit. This shows that those who created the film are insensitive to the extent of the emotional trauma the storm caused to the community.
Hopes for Hollywood recognition
DenChukwu hopes the film’s debut will receive Hollywood recognition, but will it even survive in the local community? As families are continue to salvage what remains of their lives after the hurricane, seeing their struggles glorified on the big screen may just cause old trauma to resurface.
Although the film is meant more as a commemoration, it is bound to cause those impacted by the storm a modicum of distress.
Despite focusing on Houston’s grit, the film falls flat due to a lack of emotional forethought.
Binish Azher is a print journalism sophomore and can be reached at [email protected]