Sundance Film Festival

Documentary Grand Jury Prize Winners: Trouble The Water's Tia Lessin And Carl Deal


Carl Deal and Tia Lessin

By the time Tia Lessin and Carl Deal got to Louisiana to start TROUBLE THE WATER, they had years of experience under their collective belts. Lessin had worked with documentary filmmakers Charles Guggenheim and Arthur Dong before joining forces with Michael Moore, for whom she served a producer on his two television shows. Her filmmaking partner Carl Deal had been a broadcast journalist before meeting Lessin on BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE.

Like many filmmakers after Katrina, Lessin and Deal wanted to chronicle this historic event. Originally they had targeted the National Guard troops that were returning to Fort Polk from Baghdad in order to assist in the clean up. But military red tape proved too much for them. Ready to give up, the two started volunteering at a local shelter, when their story found them.


Kim Rivers Roberts and Scott Roberts

Kimberly Rivers Roberts approached the filmmakers with video footage that she had shot during the hurricane. The filmmakers realized that Roberts experience, captured on a $20 second-hand video camera, showed more about what had happened to the people of the 9th ward than they could ever hope to capture. Returning with Kimberly and her husband Scott to the devastation of their neighborhood, Lessin and Deal captured the second part of their journey, seamlessly editing their footage with Robert’s video, to create a remarkable story of two survivors, a story that would win them a Grand Jury Prize in Documentary.

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Peter Bowen

Editor, FilmInFocus.com