One of my favorite films at Sundance this year was Trouble the Water. The film, directed by Michael Moore producers Tia Lessin and Carl Deal, was a collaboration with Kimberly Rivers Roberts and Scott Roberts, two residents of New Orleans who were trapped by floodwaters during Hurricane Katrina when the levees broke a few blocks from their home. Kim Roberts, who like many of New Orleans' poorer residents, didn't have the resources to evacuate when the hurricane hit, had just purchased a camcorder off the streets for $20 the week before the storm blew in, and she was able to capture some remarkable footage of the hurricane, the flood waters rising, and the aftermath as New Orleans residents tried to rebuild their lives.

I was disappointed that the film, which won the Grand Jury prize for documentary at Sundance, didn't get picked up during the fest. Word just came out this morning that Trouble the Water has been acquired by Maximum Films International for international rights. It's great news that the filmmakers have a deal for rights outside North America, but I really want to see the film get picked up for North American distrib as well, and it's surprising that none of the independent distributors have picked it up yet. With the right marketing campaign backing it up, Trouble the Water has "Oscar contender" written all over it. Where are THINKfilm or Magnolia? Come on guys, get on the ball here -- someone needs to pick this film up and get behind it, and get it out in North America as well.

If it was marketed properly, this film could play well both in arthouse and indie theaters and in urban areas to the African-American market as well. Theaters (and Hollywood in general) seem to think that the only films Black America wants to see are Tyler Perry films and stuff like Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins (not that there's anything inherently wrong with those films, but it would be nice to see Hollywood stretch its perception of the kinds of films African-Americans will watch a bit). Trouble the Water could really cross-over and show that African-American audiences will get behind a solid documentary as well. Acquire the film, and then market special screenings in a few bigger cities accompanied by a musical performance by Kim Roberts as Black Kold Medina (Roberts, an aspiring rap artist, makes an astonishing musical debut in the film under her rap moniker), and bring in some local rap artists from each city to perform as well, and you'd have one heck of an event to give the film a big push.