The pummeling New Orleans took from Hurricane Katrina and the failure of its levees was followed by a brutal kick in groin from the Bush Administration and its incompetence in coping with the escalating tragedy. Today at Living in Cinema, our friend Craig Kennedy hits back with a double-punch of his own, featuring another of his fine reviews accompanied by an exclusive conversation with the directors of Trouble the Water. It’s a documentary worthy of awards consideration this season, unique in one aspect as it’s built around the contemporary phenomenon of personal do-it-yourself documentary filmmaking available to everybody — home video footage.
Intrigued by the footage the couple had captured but also recognizing that here was a human face to the Katrina disaster, the filmmakers convinced the couple to let them tell their story. Taking the Roberts‚Äô harrowing brush with Mother Nature and combining it with the story of their ongoing struggle to carry on with life in the aftermath of the storm, a powerful personal portrait emerges. It‚Äôs an inspiring tale of the survival of two people for whom Katrina was just the latest in a long line of traumas, but it also raises serious questions about how an entire segment of society can be neglected in a nation that likes to call itself the most powerful on earth.
By having the patience and discipline to allow Kimberly and Scott‚Äôs story (and the stories of the people they meet along the way) dominate the film while only occasionally injecting their own point of view, Lessin and Deal allow the viewer to be drawn into the drama (instead of being turned off by strident politics). Minds are opened rather than closed and that‚Äôs where conversation and perhaps healing begins.
We’re drawn into another conversation at LiC today, as Craig Kennedy scores an interview with the flimmakers themselves. He speaks to the directors Carl Deal and Tia Lessin at length in the first of a multi-part series. Craig demonstrates some of the same patience and discipline in his own interview style, allowing the discussion to chart its own course. Its a tribute to the free-flowing tone he always achieves to see how his review of the film, the interview that follows, and the comments from LiC readers transition seamlessly in a open exchange of intelligent observations and shared concerns.
It’s an important film involving issues that every conscientious citizen should be considering in the weeks leading up to one of the most significant elections in the nation’s history. Coming at time when it’s hard to see past the media blitzkrieg swirling around manufactured cable news faux controversies, Trouble the Water is reminder of the quietly human consequences of noisy political bluster . It’s a subject that deserves our attention, and unlike the shrill talking-head talking points the media uses to simulate seriousness, this fresh look at the Katrina tragedy earns the thoughtful reflection it demands. For anyone truly interested in stories that matter, I can think of no better place to spend time today than reading Craig’s feature interview and participating in the discussion it sparks at Living in Cinema.