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<em>Trouble the Water</em>: In the Wake of Katrina

Trouble the Water makes waves across the country, inspiring ordinary citizens to make a difference.
Call to Action

GIVE
Carl:
There is still a lot of need in communities on the Gulf Coast. Visit our site for information about volunteer and charitable giving opportunities, and to find advocacy groups on the local and national levels.

 

Tia: Find out what you can do to help keep the demand for Gulf Coast recovery on the national agenda and put a bright light on the ongoing fight for racial and economic justice along the Gulf Coast and beyond.

SEE
Tia: Seeing Trouble the Water in the theatre is an action in and of itself. We want to prove to distributors that socially just films are commercially viable. This is our fifth week at the IFC Center in New York, and we’ve had sold out-showings in Chicago and New Orleans. As the film opens across the country, we hope the film can give these critical issues a higher level of visibility.

 

Visit our site to play the theatrical trailer, share it with friends, find out where else the film is playing, and help us spread the word about this film. Consider bringing members of your school, community or faith based group to see the film. Learn more about group tickets and discounts.

 

PARTICIPATE
Carl: Katrina was about more than just extreme weather. Majora Carter, one of the cofounders of Green for All, was one of our creative advisors on the film. GFA's mission is to develop a green economy that supports racial and economic justice and eradicates poverty.

 

In the film, we show how Scott has transformed himself through rebuilding his own city—he’s a concrete example of how a poor person can be redeployed in his community for the good of the neighborhood and the citizens.

 

Green For All’s National Day of Action (9/27) is an effort to create healthier environments for all Americans to live in, create jobs that help lift people out of poverty, and develop sustainable economic systems. Everyone can get involved in their own community.

 

VOTE
If you are not yet registered to vote, deadlines are fast approaching. Find out how to register today. Be heard this November.
Trouble the Water

 

In Trouble the Water, producer/directors Tia Lessin and Carl Deal feature Kimberly Rivers Roberts and her husband Scott Roberts; together, they present a vivid account of life before, during, and after Hurricane Katrina. Kim, a resident of the Ninth Ward, documented on video her horrific experience riding out the storm. Determined to save the video she shot in case it was all that was left behind if she died, Kim carried the camera over her head as she forged the river that used to be her street. Fifteen minutes of the footage she shot the day before and the day the levees broke opens Trouble the Water, beginning a cinematic journey that Time Magazine calls “[A]n endlessly moving, artlessly magnificent tribute to people the government didn't think worth saving."

 

Kim and Scott have a powerful story to tell: one of struggle, support, survival, and redemption. TribecaFilm talked with the filmmakers about their process, about how Trouble the Water is inspiring ordinary citizens to action, and about what we all can do to make a difference in our own communities.

 

TribecaFilm: Why did you set out to do a picture about Katrina?
Tia Lessin: When Katrina hit, like the rest of the country seeing things unfold on TV, our shock and horror quickly turned to outrage as the days passed and people were still stranded. We watched nurses and truck drivers do what they do, and we thought we as filmmakers could be useful in making sense of the disaster and amplifying the story through film.

 

TF: How did finding Kim and Scott shape the film?
TL: Initially we went to Louisiana to do a story about the Louisiana National Guard, most of whom had been deployed to Iraq before Katrina hit. We wanted to show how the Bush administration’s occupation of Iraq was a major reason why Gulf Coast rescue efforts were so long in coming. We were in Alexandria (LA) when the guardmembers returned two weeks later to find their homes destroyed and communities devastated. Very quickly, the National Guard shut us down. Luckily for us, Alexandria was also where Kim and Scott Roberts had evacuated, and they approached us with their footage and their story. The plight of the guardsmen and women became our secondary storyline.

 

TF: What impact do you want the film to have on ordinary citizens?
TL: We are deliberately releasing this film [nationwide] in the crucial weeks before the presidential election. We’re on a mission to get people in the door, because Trouble the Water is a call to action. People have been using screenings of the film to promote voter registration drives around the country. We showed the film at both of this summer’s political conventions, and we are having a screening for the Congressional Black Caucus on Friday (when the film opens in DC). The film is having an impact.

 

Carl Deal: We want to start a different conversation about racial and economic justice in this country. What better time to be having hard conversations about race than during this election season when Barack Obama is leading in all the polls? People want to engage politically after seeing this film, and people want to mobilize others to vote.

 

TF: Why is this film resonating so much with politically-minded audiences?
CD: This film is not just about New Orleans or Katrina. It’s about conditions long before and after: failing public schools, extreme poverty, lack of living-wage jobs, lack of decent affordable housing, and record-high levels of incarceration. These conditions exist in the Bronx, Brooklyn, South Central LA, the south side of Chicago. We want to jumpstart conversations about the role of government in our society, and protecting the health, safety, and civil rights of our citizens.

 

TF: How has the film impacted Kim and Scott?
CD: They are so proud of the film. It has allowed Kim and Scott to see themselves in a different light, to understand the good parts of who they have always been—leaders who are able to reach out and help others—and to embrace that in themselves. They know they are making a difference. At the opening in New Orleans last Friday, after 350 people gave the film a standing ovation, Kim explained, “We are trying to build a movement for change with this film.”

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