// Presented as part of Filmatique's Ecologies Series //
Spotlight on Trouble the Water
Carl Deal & Tia Lessen / 2008, Sundance, Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, NYT Critics' Pick, Silverdocs / 96'
Days prior to the arrival of Hurricane Katrina, Kimberly Rivers Roberts is a 24-year-old aspiring rapper living with her husband Scott in New Orleans' Ninth Ward. Kim has recently acquired a $20 consumer-grade camcorder and wanders her neighborhood interviewing locals, asking them if they're scared, why they haven't evacuated. "It's going to be a day to remember," she remarks. As the storm makes landfall and the levee breaks, flooding the city in contaminated water, Kim continues filming.
Chronicling dramatic rescues and harrowing returns to New Orleans' devastated outer-districts, and comprised of Kim's own footage alongside contemporary news reels and official government statements, Trouble the Water affirms the climate crisis as an issue of race, insofar as ecological disasters disproportionately affect the marginalized and people of color. Having produced Fahrenheit 9/11 and Bowling for Columbine, Carl Deal and Tia Lessen's joint-directorial debut premiered at Sundance, where it won the Grand Jury Prize; Silverdocs, where it won an Honorable Mention; and the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, where it won both the Jury Award and the Kathleen Bryan Edwards Award for Human Rights. Trouble the Water was also nominated for Emmys in Outstanding Informational Programming - Long Form and Outstanding Individual Achievement in a Craft: Research, as well as the Academy Award for Best Documentary.
"Trouble the Water infuriates, yet it also lifts us up, restores our own faith in the documentary medium"
- David Edelstein, Film Review, NPR