Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival and nominated for an Academy Award, Trouble the Water is at once horrifying and exhilarating. Directed and produced by Fahrenheit 9/11 and Bowling for Columbine producers Tia Lessin and Carl Deal, this astonishingly powerful documentary takes you inside Hurricane Katrina in a way never before seen on screen.
Says Lessin, "Despite all you think you know about America, you’ll be shocked and surprised by what you see in this film."
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 know. Kimberly Rivers Roberts, an aspiring rap artist, is turning her new video camera on herself and her 9th Ward neighbours trapped in the city. “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 neighbours. Lessin and Deal document the couple’s return to New Orleans, the devastation of their neighbourhood and the appalling repeated failures of government. Weaving an insider’s view of Katrina with a mix of verité 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.
Trouble the Water's Rising Stars: Kimberly Rivers Roberts & Scott Roberts
Kimberly and her husband Scott were born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. Though they bear a checkered past, they quickly emerge as the inspirational heart and soul of the film. The Roberts step in where the government does not, sheltering neighbours in their attic and providing food. Unfailingly cheerful and polite, even when getting the runaround from soldiers and officials, they never seem to live in anger or despair.
Charismatic, poetic and powerful, Kimberly Rivers takes over the screen and shows off her talents as her alter ego, an MC named Black Kold Madina. Kimberly and Scott recently started a record company, Born Hustler Records.
“Never mind Katrina, Kimberly Roberts is the real force of nature.” —Peter Travers of Rolling Stone
Check out her music clips at bornhustlerrecords.com, including the confessional “Amazing,” an impromptu version of which appears in the film and has caused audiences to break into tears and cheers.
Katrina should have put the battle against racism and poverty at the top of the national political agenda. But it didn't. Four years later, the gulf between rich and poor has only widened. But the actions of individuals continue to make a huge difference. Read some of the stories received and share your own.
The filmmakers will post some of the best stories on the website and use them in the campaign to build support for those still fighting to return, recover and rebuild.