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“They Probably Got Us All on the News”: Unsettled Filming in Trouble the Water

“They Probably Got Us All on the News”: Unsettled Filming in Trouble the Water

Chapter:
(p.71) Chapter Four “They Probably Got Us All on the News”: Unsettled Filming in Trouble the Water
Source:
Consuming Katrina
Author(s):
Kate Parker Horigan
Publisher:
University Press of Mississippi
DOI:10.14325/mississippi/9781496817884.003.0005

This chapter examines Tia Lessin and Carl Deal’s 2008 documentary film Trouble the Water. The filmmakers use unique documentary techniques that incorporate narrators’ engagement with the processes of their story’s publication. The film includes survivor Kim Roberts’ own footage, shot during Katrina on her handheld camera. Kim’s role as documentarian is foregrounded, and in some striking scenes she expresses her awareness about the value of her story and its likelihood of circulating among particular kinds of audiences. The filmmakers successfully integrate survivors’ own critiques of the discourses that typically represent them, and through this and other methods, create what Dominick LaCapra calls “empathic unsettlement.” However, the film’s optimistic conclusion evokes a dominant narrative of racial uplift, with a neoliberal twist that undermines the powerful work the film is otherwise performing.

Keywords:   Documentary film, Empathic unsettlement, Neoliberal, Racial uplift, Dominant narrative

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