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Trouble The Water (2008) - Movie Review

Seizing the Moment

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating
User Rating 5 Star Rating (1 Review)


The defining moment in Tia Lessen and Carl Deal’s post-Katrina documentary, Trouble The Water, comes at the beginning of rhe film, when the filmmakers, in New Orleans to record the disaster's aftermath, hook up with Kimberly and Scott Roberts, a New Orleans couple who’d survived the hurricane and not only have a lot to say about their experiences, but also have some intensely interesting footage of the calamitous event that put their Ninth Ward home and everything around it under water.

The Movie Deal

The fateful meeting between filmmakers and film subjects takes place on camera outside one of the shelters where Katrina survivors are temporarily housed--in horrible conditions that are revealed in this film and in other media.

Kim agrees to talk to the filmmakers, but before she’ll turn over her unique and harrowing hurricane footage to anyone, she demands wide exposure for her material. She wants the world to know what happened.

Trouble The Water is the fulfillment of Kim’s movie deal.

The documentary chronicles the experiences--during Katrina and aferwards--of the Roberts clan and coterie. In addition to Kimberly, who turns out to be an aspiring and talented rapper performing as Kold Medina, and Scott, her gold-toothed husband who admits to being a reformed drug dealer, we get to know Kim’s relatives who give the couple shelter in their home, and an extended family of Ninth Ward friends and neighbors whom Kim takes under wing--tirelessly, generously, selflessly, unflinchingly helping others to reach solid ground in the inundated post-Katrina world.

Kim doesn’t ask for credit for her good works, but the extent of her heroism is established by an impromptu testimonial from one of the women whom she’s saved.

The Bigger Picture

While Kim and Scott are the heart and soul of Trouble The Water, Lessen and Deal incorporate archival footage of news reports and graphics, press conferences and interviews with government officials--including appalling performances by George Bush and Mike Brown--to show us the devastation and havoc caused by Katrina, and the failure of the government to provide even basic relief--as promised--to the hurricane‘s victims.

Most importantly, commentaries from Kim, Scott and their Ninth Ward neighbors bring to the fore the issues of racism and poverty that are too often kept in the background of America’s public debate. Fact is, most of the people we meet in Trouble The Water are still waiting for the relief that‘s been promised. Fact is, they’re all black folk and impoverished. And they, as should we, question--with good reason and justified anger--why white middle class folks haven’t had to wait so long for their neighborhoods to be restored. You get the point.

So too, hopefully, will delegates to the 2008 Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where Trouble The Water is being screened, along with other documentaries about America’s pressing social and political issues, as part of the Impact Film Festival.

You should make it your business to see Trouble The Water and the other Impact Festival films--not only because they’re great documentaries, but so you’ll know what your legislators know, and you can hold them to their civic responsibilities, good consciences and any promises they make to address the issues raised in the films.

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