out of Five
Running time: 94
Riveting, emotionally engaging and frequently astonishing documentary that tells an important story and will make you laugh, cry and seethe with rage.
What's it all about?
When the hurricane warnings and evacuation orders for Hurricane Katrina were announced in August 2005, 24-year-old aspiring rap artist and self-confessed hustler Kimberly Rivers Roberts had no means of transport, so she decided to weather out the storm along with her husband Scott and her friend Brian. She also decided to document everything with her new video camera, so first she talks to friends and neighbours as the storm approaches and then we see the horrific damage to the neighbourhood as the flood waters rise, trapping Kim, Scott and Brian in their own attic.
Rescued by a heroic neighbour (a one-time enemy of Scott's), Kim and her family set about trying to rebuild their lives, battling with FEMA for compensation cheques and dealing with the loss of loved ones. Along the way, Kim's experiences provide a heartfelt outlet for her talent as a rap artist and she records a terrific song under the name Black Kold Madina.
Filmmakers Tia Lessin and Carl Deal (both associates of Michael Moore) encountered Kim and Scott during the relief effort – indeed, we see them making a different film when Kim and Scott walk into shot, promising a great story. Alongside Kim's footage, Lessin and Deal include several contextualising news bulletins and some of their own footage of people affected by the disaster.
However, it's Kim's shocking footage of the hurricane and flooding that will stay with you – it's genuinely terrifying in a way that puts Hollywood disaster movies to shame. It's also utterly devastating in places and there are moments that will make you crimson with rage, such as when Scott speaks about being turned away from a naval base (with many empty bedrooms) at gunpoint or when it's revealed that patients in a hospital (including Kim's grandmother) were just left behind to die.
Trouble the Water is a powerful, emotionally engaging documentary that demands to be seen. Unmissable.
Trouble the Water (15)