Tuesday, September 18, 2007

IFP: Talkin’ Water

Katrina related documentaries seem to be an emerging cottage industry. I will not be able to see each one screening at the IFP Marketplace, but the enthusiasm of the filmmakers convinced me to catch Talkin’ Water.

The film producers gave film and cameras to four teen-aged African-American girls, two from New Orleans and two from New York, to film the state of New Orleans environment, and interview everyone who thought they might have something to say.

The “let-the-children-be-our-teachers” approach can be grating, but in this case some fresh perspective from the young filmmakers, who do not seem to be carrying a lot of ideological baggage, is actually welcome. Katrina is undeniably one of the lowest points in the history of American media, with unconfirmed rumors reported as truth. Instead of being embarrassed, the old media has inexplicably seen fit only to congratulate itself.

The four young women are understandably disillusioned with government, and seem to come to the conclusion that they should pursue a more self reliant course. Their youth may also have helped open up some of their interview subjects, as the cut screened shows a particularly emotional encounter with a journalist still living in a FEMA trailer.

Talkin’ Water will have to distinguish itself in a crowded field of Katrina documentaries, but the young filmmakers’ voices will surely help. While many seem to take a didactic tone, pursuing various agendas, the honesty of the young four young women will probably provide a welcome perspective. (In post-production, trailer here.)