Trouble the Water

Director: Carl Deal, Tia Lessin


How is it that Hurricane Katrina managed to revolutionize American attitudes about the environment, but somehow the very people most devastated by the storm have become refugees in their own country, and their experiences have been all but forgotten? In Trouble the Water, this voiceless population becomes vibrantly human as documentarians Tia Lessin and Carl Deal engage with native New Orleans filmmaker and musician Kimberly Rivers Roberts and her husband, Scott, to create a powerful, partly autobiographical survival story that reflects many of the lives of the people of New Orleans.

Kimberly's chilling home footage of her hometown before, during, and after the storm provides a petrifying account that essentially rewrites most of the media coverage of the disaster. Broadcast news stories of rampant looting are transformed into ingeniously heroic tales of survival, while recent stories of a thriving recovery in New Orleans are exposed as a false bill of goods sold on the backs of the disenfranchised. Trouble the Water makes unapologetically clear that Hurricane Katrina rages on as an unnatural disaster of governmental and journalistic neglect. What is also truly amazing is that the levee protecting Kimberly's humanity against this devastating storm remains firmly grounded in her deep-rooted love for New Orleans, her family, and her art, and her enduring faith in her fellow human beings.

(Archives note: see also Tia Lessin & Carl Deal: Trouble the Water on our YouTube Channel.)

— Shari Frilot

Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards

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