Trouble the Water
|Trouble the Water|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Tia Lessin
|Produced by||Tia Lessin
Black Kold Madina
|Cinematography||PJ Raval and Kimberly Rivers Roberts|
|Editing by||T. Woody Richman|
|Distributed by||Zeitgeist Films|
|Running time||93 minutes|
Trouble the Water is a 2008 documentary film produced and directed by Tia Lessin and Carl Deal, producers of Fahrenheit 9/11. Trouble the Water is a redemptive tale of a couple surviving failed levees, bungling bureaucrats, and their own troubled past and a portrait of a community abandoned long before Hurricane Katrina hit, featuring music by Massive Attack, Mary Mary, Citizen Cope, John Lee Hooker, The Roots, Dr. John and Blackkoldmadina. Trouble the Water is distributed by Zeitgeist Films and premiered in theaters in New York City and Los Angeles on August 22, 2008, followed by a national release in more than 200 theaters. It had its television premiere on HBO and has been rebroadcast on National Geographic Channel and Turner Classic Movies. Trouble the Water is available on DVD.
Trouble the Water opens the day the filmmakers meet 24-year-old aspiring rap artist and ex-drug dealer Kimberly Rivers Roberts and her husband Scott at a Red Cross shelter in central Louisiana, then flashes back two weeks, with Kimberly turning her new video camera on herself and her neighbors trapped in their Ninth Ward attic as the storm rages, the levees fail and the flood waters rise.
Weaving 15 minutes of Roberts' ground zero footage shot the day before and the morning of the storm, with archival news segments, other home video, and verité footage they filmed over two years, director/producers Tia Lessin and Carl Deal document the journey of a young couple living on the margins who survive the storm and seize a chance for a new beginning.
Trouble the Water explores issues of race, class, and the relationship of government to its citizens, issues that continue to haunt America, years after the levees failed in New Orleans.
Awards and nominations 
The film was nominated for an Academy Award for best documentary feature in 2009 and an Emmy Award for best informational program in 2010. It won the Grand Jury Prize: Documentary at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival as well as the Grand Jury Award, The Kathleen Bryan Edwards Award for Human Rights, and the Working Films Award at the 2008 Full Frame Documentary Festival, and the Special Jury Prize at the 2008 AFI/Silverdocs Festival.
The film won the IFC Gotham Award for best documentary and the Council on Foundation’s Henry Hampton Award. It has also been nominated for an NAACP Image award for outstanding documentary and a Producers Guild of America award.
Named best documentary of 2008 by the American Film Critics Association and the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, and came in 2nd place for the National Film Critics Circle Award.
List of Awards 
- 2009 Academy Award Nominee, Best Documentary Feature
- 2009 Gotham Independent Film Award for Best Documentary
- 2009 NAACP Image Award Nominee, Outstanding Documentary
- 2009 Producers Guild of America For Feature Documentary (Nominated)
- 2008 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize
- 2008 Full Frame Documentary Festival Grand Jury Prize
- 2008 AFI/Silverdocs Special Jury Prize
- 2008 Council On Foundations Henry Hampton Award for Excellence In Film And Digital Media
- 2008 Working Films Award
- 2008 Kathleen Bryan Human Rights Award
- 2010 Harry Chapin Media Award
- Official Selection, 2008 New Directors/New Films (Museum of Modern Art And Film Society of Lincoln Center)
Critical reception 
Top ten lists 
The film appeared on several critics' top ten lists of the best films of 2008.
- 7th - Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly
- 8th - David Denby, The New Yorker
- 8th - Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times (six-way tie)
- 8th - Stephanie Zacharek, Salon
- 10th - David Edelstein, New York magazine
- 10th - Josh Rosenblatt, The Austin Chronicle
- Jim Ridley, The Village Voice
- Mike Scott, New Orleans Times Picayune
- Eugene Hernandez, Indiewire
- Scott Mccauley, Filmmaker
- Washington City Paper
Roger Ebert and New York Times critic Manohla Dargis both included Trouble in their "best of 2008."
"Endlessly moving, artlessly magnificent." —Richard Corliss, Time
"Four Stars….The film is about Katrina, and even more about the human spirit. Kimberly and her husband, Scott, are the life force personified: smart, funny, undefeated, indignant, determined." —Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
"….amazing – truly amazing –….Their profoundly humanistic movie won the Grand Jury Prize at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, and it does something remarkable: It sells you on American resilience." —Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
"… an utterly magnificent film, one that is as hard to forget as it is to ignore. As such, it is destined to live a long life, in peoples' minds and on scholars' shelves." —Mike Scott, The Times-Pacayune
"…essential, unique viewing: a stunning experience of the hurricane and its aftermath, rooted in immediate personal response and emotions that encapsulate the full national catastrophe." —Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly
"...Tia Lessin and Carl Deal have fashioned a deeply moving story of resilience and redemption." —Joanne Kaufman, Wall Street Journal
"…a marvelous documentary that brings home the terror and heroism brought forth by the Katrina debacle. …Beyond the politics of the situation is the human situation, and this the filmmakers capture supremely well." —Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor
"…celebrates the resiliency of the human spirit." —Miki Turner, Essence
Trouble the Water was named best documentary of 2008 by the Alliance of Women Film Journalists and the African American Film Critics Association.
Rotten Tomatoes has the film rated at 96% on the Tomatometer.
|Sundance Grand Jury Prize: Documentary
We Live in Public