Troubled Water

From a review of the documentary “Trouble the Water” by Andrew O’Hehir:

One of the peculiar media memes of the past year has been a lot of tormented nonsense about whether the ascendance of Barack Obama means that race is somehow off the table as a defining issue in American life. Of course his prospective nomination is a historic moment, but I can’t even begin to understand why this is a controversial topic. How can anybody suggest with a straight face that pervasive racism is not the reason why, in a year when every imaginable factor favors the Democrats, Obama is even or trailing in the polls behind an addled, war-hawk septuagenarian who is disliked by his own party?

To me it is Katrina that puts the lie to any fantasy of a race-neutral America. And it’s Katrina, not 9/11, that displays the nation’s potentially fatal 21st century weakness. While countless billions have been spent converting our society into a police state to prevent another unpreventable attack by a handful of neo-medieval wackos, the story of the ongoing destruction of a historic, majority-black American city — before, during and after that storm — has been briskly swept under the carpet or, more accurately, abandoned to investigative journalists, documentary filmmakers, NGO social workers, corrupt or incompetent bureaucrats and other irrelevant social debris.

Trouble the Water” is a doc by Tia Lessin and Carl Deal that uses video recorded by Kim Rivers Roberts during Hurricane Katrina and evacuation and rescue “operations”.  It won the “Best Documentary of 2008” Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

From the review by Manohla Dargis at NYT:

Ms. Roberts didn’t wait out the storm from her home in the Lower Ninth Ward; she chased it. Roaming her neighborhood on foot and bicycle, she videotaped the gathering dark clouds and her stranded neighbors with a newly bought camera, watching with mounting concern as the drizzle grew into a deluge. Her rough, untutored camerawork has an ugliness and urgency that only add to the escalating sense of chaos and unease. As her sightlines roughly shift from one fugitive image to the next — wary adults, giggly children, nervous dogs, a stop sign that will soon be almost entirely under water — you can feel the pressure of the moment. Excitement courses through her free-ranging chatter and the palsied, swerving visuals.

[…] one of Ms. Roberts’s hosts tearfully vows that her son, who has thoughts of joining the Army, will not fight for a country that seems to have forgotten its black and its poor. Ms. Roberts, who often puts her faith in God but tends to take matters into her own capable hands, expresses little anger at the government. She isn’t especially at peace with her country, just resigned, so much so that she almost shrugs when she delivers the movie’s most devastating line, saying it felt as if “we lost our citizenship.”

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