Friday, October 17, 2008

Trouble the Water

Wow. Just got back from the documentary “Trouble the Water,” which tells the story of the impact of Hurricane Katrina on the 9th ward, largely from the perspective of ward resident Kim Rivers Roberts and her husband, Scott.

From what I gather from hearing her interviewed, she’d acquired a video camera, which was probably hot, the week before the storm. She and her husband and a handful of neighbors stayed behind during the storm because they couldn’t afford to leave. You watch as Roberts roams her neighborhood, taking before shots, and then the rain starts, ultimately you see what they saw from their attic---a torrent of water running through the streets, rising up through their houses. There are literally waves in the water.

They make their way out, and at some point must meet up with the directors of the movie, who decide it would be smart—and it is—to follow the Roberts as they navigate their lives post-Katrina. It’s artful and stunning and upsetting and inspiring. That the film makers happened to stumble upon this couple, who would have just been sweaty faces in the crowd of the T.V. footage we all saw from afar, was such a gift. They are uneducated. They sold drugs to get by in their pre-Katrina lives. They are also insightful, funny, warm, thoughtful and heroic in their drive to move forward and to help those around them.

The movie ends showing footage of the 9th ward, still devastated, a year after Katrina. Meanwhile, the downtown of New Orleans, the touristy part, is going strong. No one seems to care about the people who made the wider environs of New Orleans their home. You have to try hard not to feel outraged for these people.

A special bonus of this film: Music by Kim Rivers Roberts, an aspiring rap artist. This woman has a knack for storytelling. One of her songs is called “Amazing.” It starts “You don’t have to tell me that I’m amazing.” It’s nice that she doesn’t need to hear it, but she is. I hope I’d be as tough, warm and strong if everything I owned and knew were wiped out, and most of the world didn’t seem to care.

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