A series of screenings presented in collaboration with Louverture Films that seeks to generate discussions about cinema as a strategy of complexity and plurality and as a resistance to constructed realities


Trouble the Water

A documentary film directed by Tia Lessin and Carl Deal about Hurricane Katrina and a young couple who survive the flooding of their city

Fields of Knowledge
  • Comm. Development
  • Politics / Economics
  • Social Justice

Opens to public





4017 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19104

On the web


Slought and the SP2 Social Justice and Arts Integration Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania are pleased to announce a special screening of Trouble the Water (2008), an award-winning documentary directed by Tia Lessin and Carl Deal, on Saturday, April 6, 2019 from 7:30-9:30pm at Slought, followed by a conversation with Lessin, Deal, and cinematographer Kimberly Roberts. This event is free and open to the public.

Academy Award®-nominated Trouble the Water is set against Hurricane Katrina and the abandonment of 100,000 New Orleans residents to deadly floodwaters. It won the Sundance Film Festival's Grand Jury Prize, the Gotham Independent Film Award, and was named one of the top ten documentaries of the year by The New Yorker, Salon.com, Entertainment Weekly, Los Angeles Times and New York magazine.

The day before the storm makes landfall, 24-year old rap artist Kimberly Roberts turns her video camera on herself, her husband Scott and their neighbors trapped in New Orleans. "Its gonna be a day to remember," she says as the winds pick up; without means to evacuate, she records their harrowing ordeal as the nearby levee breaks and water engulfs their home and community.

Directors/producers Tia Lessin and Carl Deal open Trouble the Water with this chilling footage, then follow Kimberly, Scott and their friend Brian on a two-year odyssey to rebuild their lives and their community. The film documents atrocities ignored by the mainstream media and covered up by authorities: the 8,000 inmates left behind in locked jail cells; soldiers turning guns on displaced residents; the deaths by euthanasia of 43 elderly patients; and the homecoming of Louisiana national guardsmen who were serving in Iraq when Katrina hit.

read more

Academy Award® and Emmy Award® nominated filmmakers Tia Lessin and Carl Deal produced and directed Trouble the Water. They were nominated for an NAACP Image Award and a Producers Guild Award for their work on the film.

Tia and Carl also directed and produced Citizen Koch, shortlisted for an Academy Award. Tia won the Sidney Hillman Prize for Broadcast Journalism for her directorial debut Behind the Labels, produced in partnership with the human rights group WITNESS. They have also produced Michael Moore's films including: Fahrenheit 9/11, winner of the Palme d'Or, Academy Award winning Bowling for Columbine, Capitalism: A Love Story, Where to Invade Next and Fahrenheit 11/9.

Their work has been recognized for its social and political impact and has played widely theatrically and on television and digital platforms (HBO, National Geographic, Ch. 4 UK, NETFLIX, iTunes, Amazon, Oxygen and PBS).

Kimberly Rivers-Roberts (also known as Queen Black Koldmadina) is the director and producer of the documentary FEAR NO GUMBO. She is a Hip-Hop and R&B artist perhaps best known for her leading role in Trouble the Water. A native of New Orleans, Queen manages her own indie label Born Hustler Records. As an actor, Koldmadina has also appeared in HBO's Treme. Celebrated for her feminine vocal power, Queen Koldmadina's music has been covered by Rolling Stone, Vibe, Essence, Ebony, Jet, The New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times, among other publications.

"Trouble the Water, is an endlessly moving, artlessly magnificent tribute to people the government didn't think worth saving."
—Richard Corliss, Time

"Captures a tale of thrilling human drama, terrible tragedy and unbelievable heroism among some of America's most stigmatized and downtrodden people ...No human being I can imagine could watch Trouble the Water and not be overwhelmed by grief and joy, and humbled by one's sudden awareness of one's own prejudices about the lives, passions and dreams of poor people."
—Andrew O'Herir, Salon.com

"Gifted filmmakers Tia Lessin and Carl Deal stick it to our absent government and in Kim—who raps her feelings in a voice that demands and deserves a record contract—they have found a human face to put on a national tragedy... Superb in every department. Trouble the Water is a documentary that will pin you to your seat."
—Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

"Trouble the Water...remains one of the most eloquent records we have of a tragedy that brought out some of the most impressively alive men and women in New Orleans."
—David Denby, The New Yorker

This event is presented in collaboration with Louverture Films and Zeitgeist Films, and produced by Slought.

It is presented in partnership with the Penn School of Social Policy & Practice and the Cinema & Media Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania, and BlackStar.