“I love the way that you’re the one I dream of,” says Kati Genthner. She’s reciting a poem she wrote for her boyfriend James, you’re looking at a front porch. Her voice is grainy, a telephone recording, sharing the story of her all-committed love. “The first time he heard it,” she reports, “he actually cried.”
It’s the last day of high school as Kati with an I begins, and Kati’s about to graduate high school. She’s also agreed to let her half-brother, the documentarian Robert Greene, and the cinematographer Sean Williams, follow her with a camera as she prepares not only to leave school, but also to leave Piedmont, Alabama. During the last months of her senior year, she’s been living with a friend, Bridgett. When her dad Brian lost his job, he and her mother Tomi moved back to North Carolina. “We all thought,” Kati explains, “The best thing for me was to stay in Alabama and finish off the last 82 days of school. And that’s how it all happened.”
Now available on DVD, the film achieves a rare and wonderful balance, its undulating rhythms emulating those of the young lives it depicts. Uneven and earnest, subtle and beguiling, Kati with an I reflects her experience without judging it, and suggests a context without overstating it.
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