Baptism By Disaster

Two weeks before Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, Kimberly Roberts bought a video camera from a neighborhood street hustler. She planned to use it to record birthday parties, reunions, and family celebrations. Instead, she used it to capture a truly traumatic first-person account of one of the five deadliest hurricanes ever to hit the United States. Trouble the Water reveals exactly how things went down in the Lower Ninth Ward, where poor, black residents of New Orleans wound up at the tragic center of one of this country’s most shameful political moments.

The camerawork is shaky, but the story keeps viewers pinned to their seats. The chronology of the documentary adds to the feeling of foreboding doom. In its earliest scenes, we see the first time filmmaker with her husband Scott prepare for the worst and issue warnings to their poor and infirm neighbors. Trouble the Water captures the devastation of inevitable natural disaster and the inexplicability of discrimination and death post-Katrina, and the images should be seared into every voter’s brain come November 4. Trouble the Water could have been another depressing montage of bloated bodies and suffering Superdome refugees, but the Roberts’s righteous determination elevates this into a force to be witnessed. Do just that at 4 p.m. today at the Lake Worth Playhouse (713 Lake Ave., Lake Worth). Tickets cost $6. Call 561-586-6410, or visit lakeworthplayhouse.org.
Tue., Oct. 21, 4 p.m., 2008

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Patrice Elizabeth Grell Yursik