Kaid Benfield Archive


As we consider Gustav, award-winning Katrina documentary enters national distribution

Kaid Benfield

Posted September 2, 2008 at 12:53PM

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Fortunately, Hurricane Gustav has not turned out to be another Katrina, as major storms go, but it appears mild only by comparison.  Hundreds of thousands are without power; evacuated citizens are getting by in shelters; the sewers in New Orleans are nonfunctional this morning; and it will be days before people can return to their neighborhoods.  There is a series of additional storms lining up to wreak havoc in the Caribbean and southeastern US.

By coincidence, I had already written this post a couple of weeks ago while beginning a vacation and had scheduled it in advance to run this week, before I knew we had reason to worry about yet another Gulf Coast hurricane.  Now, of course, it seems especially timely.

Salon has a good story up on Trouble the Water, the stellar award-winning documentary on Hurricane Katrina from the point of view of two 9th-Ward survivors, one of whom made some home video during the storm.  It is great, great stuff.

My own review of the film is here.  I saw an extended clip at a conference in February and blogged about it, after which I received a call from one of the film's directors, Tia Lessin.  Later, Tia was kind enough to invite me to a screening of the whole movie, which is really one of the best documentaries I've seen, in part because of the streetwise charisma of the two main characters, and of course because of its message, more implied than expounded.

The film just began a commercial run in New York and Los Angeles, and will be making its commercial theatre debut in DC at the E Street Cinema on Friday, September 26, for one week only.  Wherever you are, watch for it and go see it.  Here's a 2-minute trailer:



The response to Gustav has, of course, been much better than that to Katrina.  Lessons appear to have been learned.  Salon also has another good story up this morning tying the two storms together and discussing the lingering cynicism felt by some New Orleans residents about government response.

Update 11.28am:

I arrived at work this morning to 326 email messages after my time out of the office.  One of them, though, was from Trouble the Water's producers, who as of last Friday add the following:

"After we screened "Trouble the Water" for delegates and lawmakers at the Democratic National Convention this week, Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu tearfully embraced Kimberly and Scott and declared that all Americans should see the film.

"In this week's Time Magazine, Richard Corliss called "Trouble the Water" "an endlessly moving, artlessly magnificent tribute to people the government didn't think worth saving." The Wall Street Journal called the film "a deeply moving story of resilience and redemption."

"After opening to sold out theaters last weekend in New York, "Trouble the Water" extends its run in New York and Los Angeles and expands to Atlanta, Santa Monica, Pasadena, and Traverse City, Michigan. Next weekend, the film opens in San Francisco and the Bay Area . . ."