I refuse to give up my devotion to the horror movie club, but I have found further substance within the film industry while witnessing the art of documentary film making. Following my 5 month internship earlier this year at Florentine Films, working on a project about Jackie Robinson, I realized that not only can docs entertain, but they can teach and move you. I also happen to think documentary filmmakers are total bad assess, there is no clear and laid out path for them while making a film and I’m guessing they probably don’t have a nice food spread during their shoots. It takes a drive and a lot of guts to get out there and tell a story with the sensibility and rawness of real life. Even if the story they tell takes the use of archival records and footage, tracking these components down, figuring out the licensing, all the office work that lacks the glamour of Hollywood is no easy task!
I digress. I’d like to talk a bit about a documentary I saw a few years ago that follows the tradition of cinema verité.
[Visit this video to learn a bit about what cinema verité is! The woman speaks about a specific film, but she also discusses some truths about cinema verité]
Trouble in the Water, a film from 2008, opened my eyes to some close up realities about Hurricane Katrina that I never thought I would see before. A New York Times’ movie review by Manohla Dargis praised the film, arguing that having the lively Kimberly Roberts and her husband Scott as the focal point adds a very real and organic feel to the film. Those who were featured in the documentary were truly experiencing the effects of Hurricane Katrina and were not just talking heads set up in the perfect lighting in a safe area for a calm interview. What was shown to the audience was Katrina happening in real time with actual footage of the storm right at the center by a videographer with a whole lot to loose. Dargis explains how Kimberly was lucky to run into filmmakers Carl Deal and Tia Lessin at a recovery center who brought Kimberly and Scott back to the wreckage after a few weeks and followed them on their journey to recovery.
The interviews that were included were not that of high-ups or CEOs, but from the lower class of predominantly black citizens of New Orleans and those who were on the ground to witness the events and aftermath of Katrina. I think that point-of-view gives a better insight to the realities of situation, and not a sugarcoated look that may otherwise be presented to an audience. Kimberly and her companions walk the abandoned streets and talk to the US soldiers who were sent to aid the situation. They really made me feel like there hadn’t been enough of an emphasis on the aid and rescue effort, which appears to be the underlying theme of the film. Trouble in the Water does a great job of showing the individual experiences of the Katrina victims as well as covering the long term issues that came along with the storm. There does not need to be an opinion forced upon you while watching this film, the live footage really speaks for itself. Check it out!