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On street level

By SONYA TOMLINSON  |  November 19, 2008

Her self-reliance is downright necessary — it's not like anyone else was actually there to help. In their journey out of the city looking for a dry place to sleep the Robertses and a group of others seeking refuge were pointed in the direction of a vacant navy base. As they approached the gates, wet and exhausted with the last of their most cherished possessions, soldiers in uniforms pointed M-16s at them and, according to Scott said, "Get off our property or we're going to start shooting."

The directors' careful interplay of footage — juxtaposing the New Orleans Tourism Board's grossly optimistic post-hurricane marketing videos with statistics showing Louisiana's incarceration rate is the highest in the world — demonstrates the everyday contrasts that is still alive and well in the Big Easy.

As the Robertses make their permanent return to their Ninth Ward neighborhood, their need for the familiar security of home, no matter how unrecognizable or unchanged from its flooded state, is palpable. Kimberly walks out onto the same block she started filming that doomed August day, and pronounces, "This is our home, our food, our people, our problems."

Sonya Tomlinson can be reached at stomlinson@phx.com.

TROUBLE THE WATER directed and produced by Tia Lessin, Carl Deal, and Joslyn Barnes | Zeitgeist Films | 96 minutes | Movies on Exchange | November 26-December 2

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