A star is born. Her name is Kimberly Rivers Roberts. You’ve never heard of her. Not yet. Roberts didn’t write or direct Trouble the Water, the behind-the-camera artistry in this wallop of a movie is handled by the extraordinary team of Tia Lessin and Carl Deal. Trouble the Water is a documentary, an unforgettable one. It’s an account of Hurricane Katrina from the inside. Kimberly Rivers Roberts and her husband Scott Roberts were stuck in New Orleans, without the money to get out. So they stayed and helped their neighbors and shot footage of Katrina as she attacked, footage like you’ve never seen, jaw-dropping scenes of the city before, during and after Katrina struck. The heroism on view here is indisputable. You never see fears Kimberly, 26, rushed to help her friends and family. She lived hard, buffeted by poverty and racism, sometimes dealing drugs to get by, but when catastrophe forced her to step up, boy did she ever.
Kimberly’s star power comes from the music she writes and sings, music that was almost lost in the storm. The moment in the aftermath when she finds it and raps about her feelings will knock you off your feet. At the Sundance Film Festival in January, when the film premiered, that moment got audiences standing and cheering. Never mind Katrina, Kimberly Roberts is the real force of nature. Despite the political incompetence that continues to devastate New Orleans, Kimberly and Scott went home with only positive vibes. The repair needed in their city has gotten Scott a job in construction. And Kimberly’s music has attracted producers. No wonder, a glory abides in this woman’s voice. “Inspiring” is an overused word in the movie business. But it fits here. Lessin and Deal have made Trouble theWater a spellbinder you do not want to miss.