Sent: Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Subject: "Trouble the Water" in NOLA update.
I'm back from NOLA and wanted to send out an update on "Trouble the Water." As you know, the Ms. Foundation supported the "sneak preview" of the film at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA) on Sunday afternoon. The New Orleans screening was organized by Amnesty International and co-sponsored by some of our grantee partners, many of whom were in attendance, including Safe Streets, Strong Communities, Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children, and the Institute for Women and Ethnic Studies.
I spent significant time over the weekend with the Directors Tia Lessin and Carl Deal, Editor T. Woody Richman, as well as with Kimberly Rivers Roberts and Scott Roberts, the couple who are featured in the film. Danny Glover, who joined the film later as Executive Producer, also attended and participated in the post-screening panel. Tia spoke before the film about the Ms. Foundation's Katrina Women's Response Fund and acknowledged the importance of our support in bringing this film home to New Orleans. And Emily Ratner, from the New Orleans International Film Festival, added a later appreciation to the foundation for "trusting the folks on the ground to do an event that does right by our people, with an understanding of how rare and empowering that is."
The screening was both powerful and emotional, especially given that much of the audience were family members of Kimberly and Scott, or families and communities from Lower Ninth Ward who were featured in the film. During the post-screening Q&A, Kimberly gave one of the most insightful and thorough analyses of poverty I've ever heard.
I was also able to attend Kimberly's CD release party on Saturday night at the Blue Nile, which was packed with community and family showing their support. As evidenced by the film, and from the time I was fortunate to spend with her, I can say that Kimberly is a visionary who exemplifies our theory of change in the deepest way. As a young Black woman living in poverty who is now using her voice to inspire and empower young women and make change at all levels, Kimberly holds the answers to a just recovery in the Gulf Coast and beyond, and the solutions to political and social systems of inquality - answers and solutions that come directly from her and her family's lived experience (with violence, HIV/AIDS, the criminal justice system, racism, misogyny, and poverty). She is an example of the difference affording someone access to power and the opportunity to use her voice can make. She made connections with our grantees at the screening, and many of them have asked her to speak with their constituencies about her experiences and about healing, resiliency and hope. It is clear that Kimberly and Scott will continue to use their voices and visibility through this film to give back to their community.
The film's newly launched website includes a section called "Take Action" which features information about organizations -- including the Katrina Women's Response Fund -- continuing to work on rebuilding and recovery of the Gulf Coast. The film will also be screened at the Democratic National Convention. The directors, producers and cast will participate on a panel afterwards, along with Ray Nagin, Mayor of New Orleans.
Finally, for those of you who haven't seen the film - please do. It opens on Friday in New York and Los Angeles. All my talking about it over the last few months is nothing compared to experiencing it first hand. Once you do, all this will make much more sense and get you as excited as I have been, I'm sure.
Thanks for reading!
Program Officer, Building Movements
Ms. Foundation for Women
Top photo: (from left) Scott Roberts and Kimberly Rivers Roberts do a television interview, while directors Tia Lessin and Carl Deal watch.
Bottom photo: (from left) Sangeeta Budhiraja and Kimberly Rivers Roberts.