Wednesday, August 3, 2011

God's gonna trouble the water

I remember sitting on my couch in August 2005 mesmerized hour after hour watching the news converage of Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath when the levee system failed. I sobbed for days-I felt as though I knew someone who was there, but I didn't. In reality, I had never even been to New Orleans but yet my heart ached for the elderly husbands trying to fan off their wives. My arms hurt for the moms having to hold their baby for hours and hours in the heat, humidity, bugs, etc because there was no where else to go. I clung to Braydon and just couldn't imagine what it would be like if we were in that situation. The truth is, that this easily could be you, or me, or someone we know, and that's part of why it affected me the way it did. I am self-admitted news junkie at heart, but this disaster impacted me in such a way that I will never forget. (Interesting side note: My husband's family is actually from Louisiana and at that point I had just met Kenney and knew nothing of his family's heritage there. It is cool to look back and think maybe that's why I was so engrossed, but I didn't know it!!)

About a month ago, I watched a documentary called Trouble The Water. In honor of the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina that's coming up on the 28th of this month, I wanted to show the trailer and promote this award-winning film. This is a raw first hand account that follows people through the storm, and as they return to the Lower 9th Ward to try to rebuild their homes AND their lives. The trailer is above & the description of the film is below. You can find this film in the documentary section on Netflix and can be watched instantly.

But first, I want to point out something that has always really bothered me about some of the media coverage of Hurricane Katrina and the misconception a lot of people have. What really bothers me is people assuming that the people who stayed behind were refusing to comply with the government officials who issued a mandatory evacuation order and that some how those people who were stranded on their roof tops somehow "asked for it" by staying behind.

I'd like you to pretend for a minute that you live in a very urban area, such as Chicago or NY. Many people opt not to have a car in these areas because they use public transportation for many reasons: there are costs for parking your car, the traffic is horrible etc. Now these people who rely on public transit are indeed at the mercy of the public transportation system.

That being said, many of the people of NO who stayed behind did NOT stay because they wanted to. These people who did not have transportation means simply were without a choice. If they did not own a car, how were they supposed to evacuate? These people, especially those who lived in poorer areas like the Lower 9th ward, didn't have the extra money laying around to rent a car. Or even if they did, maybe they didn't have a driver's license or the required credit card to be able to rent a car. Having been in very tight financial spots before, I can absolutely understand that some people just could not afford to leave. You cannot issue a mandatory evacuation and expect people who don't own a car and rely upon the public transportation system to be able to leave. There was absolutely NO city/public transit provided to help aid in evacuation for the people who had no other alternative.

Some residents were unable to evacuate because they had elderly, sick or handicapped family members and couldn't leave them behind. Others still had no television or even power in some of the lower 9th ward and didn't even know a storm was coming. Some didn't even have a place to actually evacuate to. Many of the residents of NO were 4th and 5th generation city residents with their entire family residing in New Orleans. A good majority had never even left the city before. Imagine never having even looked at map or knowing what state was directly north of you. This is the absolute reality these people faced.

Please consider watching this documentary and seeing how this storm forever impacted the lives of so many. It will leave you encouraged by seeing genuine kindness and selflessness displayed in a time of chaos and the desire to better their lives instead of living as a victim. It will also stir complete frustration inside of you by the absolute injustice that has and continues to happen to the survivors of the diaspora caused by Hurricane Katrina.

From Trouble The Water Film's website:

Nominated for an Academy Award® for best feature documentary, TROUBLE THE WATER takes you inside Hurricane Katrina in a way never before seen on screen. It's a redemptive tale of two self-described street hustlers who become heroes-two unforgettable people who survive the storm and then seize a chance for a new beginning.

The film opens the day before the storm makes landfall-twenty-four year old aspiring rap artist Kimberly Rivers Roberts is turning her new video camera on herself and her 9th Ward neighbors trapped in the city. "It's going to be a day to remember," Kim declares. With no means to leave the city and equipped with just a few supplies and her hi 8 camera, she and her husband Scott tape their harrowing ordeal as the storm rages, the nearby levee breaches, and floodwaters fill their home and their community. Shortly after the levees fail, their battery dies.

Seamlessly weaving 15 minutes of this home movie footage shot the day before and the morning of the storm with archival news segments and verite footage shot over the next two years, directors Tia Lessin and Carl Deal tell a story of remarkable people surviving not only failed levees, bungling bureaucrats and armed soldiers, but also their own past.

Directed and produced by Tia Lessin and Carl Deal and Executive Produced by Joslyn Barnes and Danny Glover of Louverture Films, edited and co-produced by T. Woody Richman, with addiitonal editing by Mary Lampson, Trouble the Water features an original musical score by Neil Davidge and Robert Del Naja of Massive Attack, and the music of Dr. John, Mary Mary, Citizen Cope, TK Soul, John Lee Hooker, and the Free Agents Brass Band and introduces the music of Black Kold Madina.

Trouble the Water has been supported by grants from the Sundance Institute, the Open Society Institute, the Ms. Foundation for Women, the 21st Century Foundation, the Fledgling Fund, Working Films, the Ford Foundation, and is a project of Creative Capital.


2009 Academy Award ® Nominee, Best Documentary Feature

2009 Gotham Independent Film Award ™ for Best Documentary

2009 NAACP Image Award, Outstanding Documentary (Nominated)

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

Official Selection, 2008 New Directors/New Films (Museum of Modern Art and Film Society of Lincoln Center)

Trouble the Water was named best documentary of 2008 by the Alliance of Women Film Journalists and the African American Film Critics Association. And it was listed on many critics 2008 top ten films lists -- in the Los Angeles Times, the New Yorker,, Entertainment Weekly, The Village Voice, Times Picayune and New York magazine among other publications. Roger Ebert and Manohla Dargis both included Trouble the Water in their "best of 2008" lists.


Ken said...

Very troubling and enlightening. Why does media distort?

Britney said...

Have I ever told you I love your heart for people? Well, I do.