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Trouble the Water

Eye on the Oscars: Documentaries

COUNTRY: U.S.

DIRECTORS: Carl Deal and Tia Lessin make their feature directing debut with this film. Lessin produced “Bowling for Columbine” and “Fahrenheit 9/11,” and Deal served as archival producer on both.

SUBJECT: “Trouble the Water” explores survival in the face of natural and man-made disasters — before, during and after Hurricane Katrina.

FINANCING: Private investments and grants from Sundance Docu Fund, Open Society, Creative Capital Foundation, Women in Film and other orgs.

DISTRIB: Theatrical re-lease via Zeitgeist Films began in Gotham and L.A. in August, with a 170-city rollout to date. HBO broadcasts in 2009.

HELMER COMMENTS: “We hadn’t intended to talk to people who had just gotten up out of Hurricane Katrina, but when Kim (Kimberly Rivers Roberts) and Scott (Roberts) got in front of our cameras, they started talking with a lot of optimism, hope and excitement,” Deal says. “They had a forward-looking mindset that really drew us in. We invited them back with us to New Orleans, and that’s how we started the relationship.”

“We were eager to see how it would turn out for them,” Lessin adds. “They showed us this heart-stopping footage, but in the end they became our subjects because they were these compelling screen presences. They were self-described street hustlers who were also warmhearted and generous of spirit. We felt this was a way to tell the story from the inside looking out.”

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