6
Jan 09

But What If Life Gives You Shit Lemons?

Do You See + FT2 comments • 268 views

The most obvious film to compare Trouble The Water, the Hurricane Katrina disaster documentary with is Spike Lee’s epic When The Levees Broke. Being considerably shorter by two and a half hours, you may be forgiven in thinking that Trouble The Waters is a lighter, easier digested, dumbed down version. It is not: rather it is a terrific personal journey through the New Orleans disaster through the eyes of a remarkably optimistic couple (really, how they manage to stay positive and not be annoying or mentally ill is amazing). You get something a bit different from the Spike Lee film that this (though both are worth seeing). A much more interesting comparator to Trouble The Water is another film from last year, camcorder alien stomps on New York movie Cloverfield.

OK, Cloverfield was not a documentary, but it did pretend to be found personal footage of a city-wide disaster. The heart of Trouble The Water is Kim Richards Roberts (aka Black Kold Medina) own camcorder footage of the hurricane as it hits. It starts playfully with its mock documentary fashion, and kids who ain’t afraid of no hurricane. And then it gets patchy, blurry, and increasingly scary as the flood hits town and people hide in attics and run out of food and water. The biggest issue about the verisimilitude of Cloverfield was that no-one would keep filming (and the battery life would run out). Well Kim keeps filming, once safe at least, and talking. We see flood waters rising and for days we see lack of any kind of support. Though her battery does run out halfway through her story – filled in later by her and her husband Scott.

They survive, though some people we see on camera don’t. They eventually get out, embracing the disaster as an opportunity. Then they come back, realising the social bars to employment and a better way of life evaporated like the flood water, there wa sno consistency or follow through long term. All through though Kim and Scott remain active, focussed for improvements and you end the film willing it to happen. It is a film of tiny surprises, around the now well known fuck ups of Katrina. It is a reminder of individual acts of heroism (Scott rescues a number of people and finds a new voice and self confidence in his own modesty). And the moment when Kim discovers the only suviving copy of her rap demo and flawless raps over it, beats any giant monster stomping on New York.

Trailer below, its on at the ICA for a bit and will probably turn up on BBC4 or More 4 later in the year.

Comments

  1. 1
    Lex on 13 Jan 2009 #

    I just came back from seeing this at the ICA. It’s really brilliant. I like the way that, just as the film has raised you to a fever pitch of total rage about the manifold fuck-ups, it cuts to Kim and Scott returning to New Orleans to find their dogs still alive and running to greet them <3

  2. 2
    Pete Baran on 4 Mar 2009 #

    Just to let you know the ICA have a couple more screenings of this at the moment. Tonight and Sunday I think. Well worth seeing.

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