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Movie Natters: September 3, 2008 Archive

Carl Deal learns optimism from Katrina victims (and gets a film out of it too.)

Posted at 4:21 PM on September 3, 2008 by Euan Kerr

Carl Deal and Tia Lessin went to New Orleans to make a film about the Louisiana National Guard being pulled out of Iraq early to help with the Hurricane Katrina recovery - and to see what the soldiers could save of their own homes too.

Deal and Lessen were old hands at docs. They worked on "Fahrenheit 9/11" and "Bowling for Columbine." So when the Guard decided after three days it wasn't going to help any more, they went looking for another Katrina story.

One found them. A woman called Kimberly Rivers Roberts and her husband Scott crashed an interview Deal and Lessen were doing, and announced they had the real story of Hurricane Katrina.

What they had was a stack of tapes Kimberly had recorded with a camcorder bought on the street for $20 the day before Katrina hit. She thought she would shoot a little footage to show her grandchildren. What she ended up getting was a record of life just a few blocks from on of the largest levee breaks, and the desperate measure people had to take to survive.

Deal says they knew they had a great story, but they also knew they had a huge responsibility to preserve a unique voice telling an important story. Over the next few months they followed Kimberly and Scott as they tried to get back on their feet. They also learned more about the troubles of living in the poverty stricken areas of New Orleans.

The resulting film, called "Trouble the Water" is both horrifying and hopeful, as the strength of character and can-do spirit deep inside Kimberly and Scott rises to the surface. The film won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance this year.

Deal says he learned the power of optimism from the people he met in New Orleans.

He says he learned from "Fahrenheit 9/11" that films can add to the political debate, and while "Trouble the Water" is a very different kind of a film, he hopes it can add to the electoral discussion of the responsibilities of government to the people.

The film screened at the Impact Film Festival this morning and will open locally on September 19th. You can view the trailer here

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