Tag Archives: Hurricane Katrina

Theatrical Review: Trouble The Water

The following review originally ran as part of our coverage of this year’s New Directors/New Films festival on April 28th, 2008.
Trouble the Water
Directors: Tia Lessin, Carl Deal
Executive Producers: Danny Glover, Joslyn Barnes, Todd Olson, David Alcaro
Producers: Tia Lessin, Carl Deal
Cinematography: PJ Raval, Nadia Hallgren, Kimberly Roberts
Editor: T. Woody Richman (additional editing by Mary Lampson)
Music: Davidge/Del Naja, Black Kold Madina
U.S., 2007, 94 minutes
Trouble the Water is simply the best Katrina documentary I’ve seen to date. No disrespect to Spike Lee (When The Levees Broke) or the other noble works that have come out since the disaster (Axe in the Attic and Katrina Diary to name just two) but this movie hits every note just right. Lessin and Deal went down to New Orleans just five days after Katrina hit with no clear idea of what they were going to find. To their good fortune -and ours– they happened to meet Kimberly Roberts and her husband, Scott, a recently homeless couple at the Superdome. Prior to Katrina, the two had been living a very difficult existence in the impoverished Ninth Ward by selling drugs, something they touch upon in a one of the film’s more moving moments. The disaster, as tragic as it was, ended up affording them the opportunity to learn more about themselves than they would have otherwise; one lesson being that they were living miserable lives and were grateful to make a change.
Adding to that life-changing revelation is the fact that Kimberly, who had gotten hold of a video camera not long before the hurricane hit, ended up filming portions of her experience. Those clips, are both horrific and funny and much of it ended up incorporated into Trouble the Water. Hearing Kimberly’s remarks over her often manic camera work is another of the film’s amazing aspects. Her anxiety is palpable as the water rises inch by inch, engulfing their home. Though her regional dialect is at times hard to understand, the spiritual change she goes through over the ensuing days and weeks is very clear. As she and Scott confront the enormity of their situation, rather than lie down and give up, they rise above their circumstances.

NYFF 07 Review: The Axe In The Attic

The Axe in the Attic
Directed by Ed Pincus & Lucia Small
After the New Orleans flood of 1965, many of those who survived would keep an axe in their attic so that, in the event the water should ever again rise to the top of their homes, they would have a way out. Interestingly, some of the survivors of Hurricane Katrina, forever immortalized in TV and still images, standing on their roofs hoping for rescue owe their lives to this practice. Now documentary makers Lucia Small and Ed Pincus bring us The Axe in the Attic, a fine contribution to the 45th New York Film Festival and one that pulls no punches. Where’s the outrage you may ask; this remarkable documentary gives its subjects – both victims as well as its creators – a platform for expressing it. The results are moving.
Don’t allow the blip of controversy about this movie get in the way of checking it out. While Spike Lee’s When The Levees Broke, a powerful and necessary work of documentary film making itself, is planted firmly in New Orleans interviewing survivors and celebrities alike, Pincus and Small hit the road for a 60-day tour of America’s back roads to find their subjects. It’s no exaggeration to suggest that those displaced residents of New Orleans belong to the single largest American diaspora. They can be found in FEMA trailer parks and crashing with family, but their collective feelings of depression and hope are truly profound. The controversy – or criticism – that the film is generating has to do with the two filmmakers inserting themselves so centrally into the story. Many of said critics believe that the focus ought to be solely on the victims and that showing the film maker’s own problems just intrudes on the victims’ dignity and to be honest, at times their presence does have a taint of narcissism, but ultimately I found the decision to be a successful device.

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A Couple Of Telling Hurricane Katrina-Related Quotes

Here are a few quotes I heard tonight that I thought needed repeating.
On Real Time With Bill Maher on Friday, Anderson Cooper recounted a conversation he had with a man on the Gulf Coast about the politicians who keep saying that they understand the frustration felt by people affected by the storm when aid had taken so long to get to them and the man said:
“We’re not frustrated. People aren’t frustrated here. People are dead. ”
A more chilling and honest assessment of what people are going through down there I have not heard.

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A Katrina Note: Race And TV News

Earlier today, CNN‘s Wolf Blitzer was wrapping up a segment in which he had interviewed former presidents Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush about what they were doing for the relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Blitzer mentioned something I had not seen anyone on a major news outlet point out. While speaking over footage of New Orleans residents waiting so futilely to be rescued, Blitzer commented how those left in New Orleans were: “so poor and so black.”
I might not have gotten the quote exactly right, but the sentiment is still there. I’m very happy Blitzer made the comment but the fact that it’s so notable, 3 days into this tragedy, is telling. We are going to miss Peter Jennings, Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather for a very long time.

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Katrina Puts Everything Into Perspective

The potential devastation to be wrought on New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast by Hurricane Katrina is making it very hard for me to concentrate on other subjects. I’d love to be able to wax rhapsodic about the wonders that await me at this year’s Toronto International and New York Film Festivals, but right this second, I cannot. I have been reading some of the news reports and even though they are often categorized as “worst case scenarios,” the information is staggering:

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