Kati is filmmaker Robert Greene’s much younger half-sister and he has been shooting footage of her since she was a little girl. In this über-intimate portrait, a very “small story” indeed, Greene captures Kati, a teenager about to graduate high school and already engaged to her childhood sweetheart whom she plans to marry “in five years,” over the course of three emotional days. Her future, in many ways, is set in this vivacious girl’s mind—she has it all planned out in the way we, as little girls, used to do when we could describe in minute detail our dream wedding day. The problem is, little boys dream of other things, even while professing undying love and devotion, wailing romantic songs along with the radio behind the wheels of pickups in the dopey earnest way teenagers do. We see many of Kati’s dreams disintegrate as she encounters the irrevocable onslaught of young adulthood, its expectations and endless responsibilities, which come way, way too soon. Kati With an I has the same poetic pangs of angst and bewilderment as Matthew Porterfield’s beautiful Putty Hill, providing resonant collective memories of what it’s like to be an unsophisticated child “on the verge.” Greene’s and Sean Price Williams’s cinematography is a revelation, lush and sensuous. And Greene’s editing is both sophisticated and visceral, enhancing the deeply emotional journey of their young subject with all of the pain-filled splendor she can muster for the camera. It’s remarkable that Green has made a feature film this nuanced and fulgent with just 14 hours of footage.
— Pamela Cohn