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Trouble the Water

56 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

2008 Academy Award Nominee for Best Documentary Feature, this astonishingly powerful film is at once horrifying and exhilarating. Directed and produced by Tia Lessin and Carl Deal (producers, Fahrenheit 9/11 and Bowling for Columbine), Trouble the Water takes you inside Hurricane Katrina in a way never before seen on screen. 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 knew. Kimberly Rivers Roberts, an aspiring rap artist, is turning her new video camera on herself and her 9th Ward neighbors 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 neighbors. The filmmakers document the couple's return to New Orleans, the devastation of their neighborhood and the appalling repeated failures of government. Weaving an insider's view of Katrina with a mix of verite 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.

- 16:9 anamorphic presentation, enhanced for widescreen televisions
- Outtakes, including extended and deleted scenes
- Q&As from the 2008 New Orleans premiere and 2009 Roger Ebert Film Festival
- Trouble the Water at the 2008 Democratic National Convention
- U.S. theatrical trailer
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired
- Optional Spanish subtitles

There have been other good films documenting the Hurricane Katrina disaster, but producer-directors Tia Lessin and Carl Deal’s Trouble the Water tells the story from a point of view that’s unusual, if not unique: from the inside out. That perspective is provided by Scott and Kimberly Roberts, a young couple from New Orleans’ Ninth Ward who are the central figures in this harrowing but ultimately uplifting drama. On August 28, 2005, two days before Katrina came to town, Kimberly (also an aspiring rapper whose stage name is Black Kold Madina), started shooting footage with her own video camera. “I’m showing… that we did have a world before the storm came,” she says, and she keeps at it even as the hurricane forces her, Scott, and other family members to hole up in the attic as the rain, wind, and floodwaters take their toll (“We’re truly under siege,” Kimberly reports. “We’re barely living up here”). They eventually find temporary refuge elsewhere, but two weeks later, having lost a grandmother and an uncle in the storm, the couple returns to their neighborhood, now accompanied by professional filmmakers. The images here are striking--not just their horror at seeing what’s become of their home, but also their delight at finding a couple of their dogs still alive, or Kimberly’s joy and relief as she recovers a photo of her mother, who died of AIDS when Kim was 13. And while one can certainly sense their despair, helplessness, and resignation (the government’s appallingly slow and inept response does not go unnoticed), there’s very little anger--even when the officers at a nearby Naval base, where there’s plenty of room, turn them away--and a surprising amount of optimism. “I’m still here,” Kimberly says, “looking for a better tomorrow.” Spike Lee’s When the Levees Broke remains the definitive and most comprehensive Katrina documentary, but for a more personal approach, Trouble the Water (which includes several of Roberts’ hardcore, profanity-laced raps on the soundtrack) is highly recommended. --Sam Graham

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Kimberly Rivers Roberts, Scott Roberts
  • Directors: Tia Lessin, Carl Deal
  • Producers: Tia Lessin, Carl Deal
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Zeitgeist Films
  • DVD Release Date: August 25, 2009
  • Run Time: 96 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0027EU2S2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #93,312 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Trouble the Water" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By B. Singer on June 26, 2009
Format: DVD
I saw Trouble the Water at a packed screening a couple months ago. As someone who doesn't know anyone directly affected by Hurricane Katrina, I found the film to be very eye-opening, even though I had already seen Spike Lee's "When the Levees Broke." The film includes haunting amateur video from Kim Roberts as she and her husband Scott stay in New Orleans while the hurricane hits. The film's story does not stop with the end of the hurricane. Rather, the storm is just the beginning. Filmmakers Tia Lessin and Carl Deal follow Kim and Scott on their journey out of New Orleans (and back again), as they share their story, deal with the tragedy and loss caused by the storm, and begin a new life. Kim is the true star the film, a talented aspiring rapper who proves herself as a hero by helping her family, friends, and neighbors, survive the storm and its devastation. I would highly recommend this film to everyone, whether you were affected by Katrina or know little about it.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Maybird on June 2, 2009
Format: DVD
Trouble the Water deserves all of the hype surrounding it: Sundance, Gotham Awards, the Academy Awards-- these nominations and wins came for a reason. I saw a free screening of this film in Central Park where the filmmakers, distribution company, and the subjects of the documentary came to promote the film to an audience that normally wouldn't be exposed to independent documentaries. The reception of the film was incredible, and the documentary itself was very moving. It really gives a human face and a closer look at Katrina other than the news footage seen on TV at the time. Zeitgeist films picked up the documentary World Cinema Documentary winner from this year's Sundance and after catching a preview screening I can say that this is a company that knows how to pick its documentaries. Afghan Star, which follows four competitors competing on Afghanistan's Pop Idol competition, is being released in late June. Keep an eye out for this documentary-- the public is finally getting more access to these incredible films that are not only entertaining but also educational!
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on April 29, 2009
Format: DVD
Kimberly...God bless you and your family. Thank you for having the courage to speak the truth and be a witness to the facts. Every American should watch this film. The only thing more beautiful than Kimberly's heart are her rhymes. I will be buying your CD as soon as I get paid. May God always smile when He says your name. Peace.


This film is currently being shown on HBO and HBO On Demand. The review is for the HBO airing in April 2009.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By S. Fishburn VINE VOICE on August 26, 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I live in Colorado. About a week before Katrina, I visited New Orleans for only the second time in my life, as an absolute tourist, with a daughter and two grandsons, and for the second time fell in love with a city that was so mixed, so mixed up, and so totally unforgettable that it both captured and broke my heart. And that was before Katrina mind you. Watching Trouble the Water, the truest, most REAL documentary I have ever seen (and I've seen alot of them) brought back all the feelings of utter devastation we experienced as we watched the "news" coverage during and after the worst natural AND man-made disaster in our country in my memory. It was a terrible moment in our history and the repercussions continue today for thousands. Hearing the story re-told by Kimberly Roberts brings to mind all the clichés - moving, horrifying, unbelievable, etc. My heart sank as she pulled on the face mask to enter the house in the Lower 9th Ward in search of her uncle. Yes, he was dead. Yes, it was two weeks after the levees broke and no, no "authorities" had been through their neighborhood. Yet her story and personal film footage (yes, she IS essentially a born "journalist", especially evident in her outrageously honest, astute, and poetic lyrics), and that of her friends, neighbors and family transcend cliché, and make hope tangible. And I don't mean to imply she was the only person making an effort above and beyond; Brian, Scott, Larry, and so many others all deserve respect, and also the means to carry on - something way more useful than medals. Kudos to the official "filmmakers" for understanding all of that, and simply keeping the cameras rolling.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Michele K. Gielis on August 2, 2009
Format: DVD
Good evening to you - just saw your film tonight, had the honor to shake your hand. Wanted to say that having studied documentary film and made a couple of small ones, the integrity with which you approached this and let us get to know Kim and her family was astounding. I cried and laughed and was enriched. Thank you for telling her story and most of all spreading the word by traveling with the film. I heard about your film through an independent film newsletter. In October, I'll be in Houma, LA helping them raise awareness about saving the wetlands at the Voice of the Wetlands festival and I'll be sure to spread the word of Trouble the Water. Amazing job and I hope you are taking pride in your work, because you deserve it. I love the people of Louisiana and it's wonderful to see someone standing up for them. I'll keep an eye out for when you distribute this on DVD and I'm planning to buy copies for many friends and family. Congratulations and thank you for opening my heart.
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