"TROUBLE the WATER:" An Inside Look At Hurricane Katrina
by Lisa Durden Wednesday August 27, 2008, 5:38 PM
On the two year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Executive Producers Danny Glover & Joslyn Barnes and Directors of Fahrenheit 9/11 and Bowling for Columbine producers Tia Lessin and Carl Deal, bring you "Trouble the Water." A riveting documentary that takes you inside Hurricane Katrina in a way never before seen on screen. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, this astonishingly powerful documentary is at once horrifying and exhilarating.
The film opens the day before the storm makes landfall--just blocks away from the French Quarter but far from the New Orleans that most tourists knew. Kimberly Rivers Roberts, an aspiring rap artist, is turning her new video camera on herself and her 9th Ward neighbors trapped in the city. Fifteen minutes of Kimberly and her husband Scott's dramatic home video footage shot the day before and the day of the hurricane anchors the first act of Trouble the Water. It combines raw power with beguiling warmth and offers a rare, unforgettable first-person voice and a perspective.
"It's going to be a day to remember," Kim declares. As the hurricane begins to rage and the floodwaters fill their world and the screen, Kim and her husband Scott continue to film their harrowing retreat to higher ground and the dramatic rescues of friends and neighbors. The filmmakers document the couple's return to New Orleans, the devastation of their neighborhood and the appalling repeated failures of government. Weaving an insider's view of Katrina with a mix of verite and in-your-face filmmaking, Trouble the Water is a redemptive tale of self-described street hustlers who become heroes--two unforgettable people who survive the storm and then seize a chance for a new beginning.
Friday, August 22, 2008 I got a chance to see Trouble the Water at a screening hosted by ImageNation Films at The Faison Firehouse Theater . And this film was powerful. It really blew me away. As a journalist and documentary filmmaker myself, I watch a lot of films so it is hard to impress me. I have seen many films and news specials about Hurricane Katrina and Trouble the Water brought a new perspective to what happened in New Orleans in 2005. There were very distinct details that were exposed in this documentary that had never been made public before.
All Americans need to see Trouble the Water if they want the "real" truth about what happened in New Orleans and the role our government played in leaving human beings to suffer like animals without as much as a care when the levees broke. And what is the most compelling about the film is what "has not" happened since the devastation. It has only been two years since Hurricane Katrina and Americans have already slipped into a lull of denial that everything is back to normal. Trouble the Water is just the wake up call that we need to keep the Bunsen Burner of "let's do something" under our asses.
There was a scene where husband and wife Kimberly Roberts and Scott Roberts called their local authorities and the Red Cross asking for help and there was no rescue sent out. So they started rescuing people in a boat they found floating by. Now something is very wrong with that picture. If everyday people like Kim and Robert can help get people to safety then our government and military should have been able to help with their eyes closed . If we can send soldiers over to Iraq to fight a war then we could have certainly sent troops to New Orleans in enough time to avoid the disaster before the storm.
The government knew at least 19 days before, that Hurricane Katrina was coming. But nobody cared about the people in the 9th ward because they were black. Many news casts even referred to them as refugees. In a press conference, President Bush had the nerve to tell them not to leave and to pry. And after the storm he will send rescue. DON'T LEAVE! PRAY! SEND RESCUE AFTER THE STORM! WAS BUSH ON CRACK? WHAT THE HELL IS THAT? WOULD HIS STUPID ASS HAVE STAYED? NO, I DON'T THINK SO. BABY BUSH WOULD HAVE GATHERED HIS FAMILY AND HIGH-TAILED IT OUT OF THERE. WHY DOESN'T HE PRAY ABOUT IRAQ INSTEAD OF SENDING TROOPS! I MEAN, DIDN'T HE LEARN FROM THE TRAGEDY OF 911.
There were scenes in Trouble the Water where the US Navy troops threatened to use M16's to shoot Kim and Scott if they didn't leave the Naval base asking for help. These soldiers made it clear that they were there to protect the Government not the people of New Orleans. This is the only film that put that information on "blast."
Many of the things exposed in Trouble the Water made me sick to my stomach to see. Watching this compelling documentary made me embarrassed to say I live in a country that is supposed to be the land of the free and the home of the brave. The America government cowered and turned their backs on people in need during Hurricane Katrina. They treated the people in the 9 ward like they had lost their citizenship. It was like they were in a 3rd world country not in the United States Of America.
Trouble the Water exposed the fact that during Hurricane Katrina people were never evacuated from a local memorial hospital and there were lots of body bags in its aftermath. "Wink," Kim's cousin, who she was trying to contact in prison during the storm said nobody told the prisoners about the hurricane. They had no food or water; they were eating paper. The officers left them there like animals and slaves to fend for themselves. It was total helter skelter.
Film goers had a unique opportunity to be a part of a Q & A with Executive Producer, Danny Glover and Directors Tia Lessin and Carl Deal. When asked what was the genesis of the film they said; "the film we made, rather than the one we envisioned, began two weeks after Katrina made landfall in New Orleans. "We decided to stay away from talking head interviews with experts, voice-over narration, and other traditional documentary story-telling devices that make for good television but not necessarily powerful cinema. We set out to make a dramatic movie, not to deliver information. We were stunned by the televised images of elderly people laid out on baggage claim carousels at the airport, and bloated bodies floating where streets had been. We wanted to know why the city had not been evacuated before the storm, and why was it that help was so late in coming after the levees collapsed. We wanted to make sense of it all."
When asked how they met the characters Kimberly & Scott they responded: "We were ready to shut down the cameras, send our crew home, and start volunteering at the shelter." That was when, at an Alexandria Red Cross shelter on day four of the shoot, Kimberly and Scott Roberts, who had evacuated New Orleans a week earlier, spotted Deal and the crew. The chance meeting redirected the film and opened up a story that did, indeed, help "make sense" not only of this particular disaster, but of issues that haunt America: Who is vulnerable in our society and why? And what does it take to beat the odds and survive, even triumph?
"People ask us how we found Kimberly and Scott," Lessin says, "and the truth is that they found us." Within minutes after Deal, Lessin and their crew wandered across the parking lot that separated the National Guard Armory and the Red Cross shelter, they crossed paths with Kimberly and Scott, who walked into their camera's frame and never left. The city was on its knees, but 24-year-old Kimberly was back on her feet.
Before Hurricane Kitrina, Kimberly, a.k.a. "Black Kold Madina" recorded a dozen underground rap songs on a demo album "Tryed and True." She lost all her music in the hurricane. Or so she thought. At the rock solid heart of the film is a spontaneous performance by Kimberly of her own song "Amazing" just moments after she finds the only existing copy of her recorded music with a relative in Memphis. Black Kold Madina is rooted deeply in the traditions of the New Orleans Hip-Hop bounce music which, Kim was trying to break through in the city's underground rap scene that has produced artists like Juvenile and Master P, and Mia X, a role model. Post-Katrina, Kold Madina has recorded dozens more tracks on Born Hustler Records, the record label she and Scott formed, including two featured in the film: "Bone Gristle" and "Trouble the Waters."
After the second anniversary of Katrina, Danny Glover and his producing partner Joslyn Barnes, and their company Louverture Films, saw the film, joined the project as executive producers and found finishing funds. "Danny told us that he wanted to be of service to the film. He saw it had the potential to transform lives. We have long admired him as both an artist and a humanitarian and when he and Joslyn offered to help, it gave new life to the project," says Deal.
Kimberly and Scott's story resonated with Glover, "I felt so empowered by Kimberly and Scott and by their actions. Their story very clearly shows why it is critical for all people to have a voice--no one can be disenfranchised or marginalized if we are all going to genuinely have a stake in choosing our future."
The power of this film drew a list of who's who to the screening from the entertainment industry, like famed filmmaker Jonathan Demy, reps from HBO and BET, to experience the strong story of hope and triumph told in Trouble the Water.Trouble the Water opens in August at theaters in California & New York including ImageNation at The Faison Firehouse Theater on West 124th St. New York, New York, NY on August 22, 2008 - September 7, 2008 with a nationwide release to follow. For more information log on to www.troublethewater.com IT'S A MUST SEE!