As Hurricane Katrina bore down on New Orleans, 9th Ward resident Kimberly Rivers Roberts, an aspiring rap artist, and her husband Scott, used their Hi 8 camera to film their experience of the storm, from the trepidation of the day before the storm’s landfall to the failing of the levees. Trouble the Water weaves this home movie footage with archival news segments and verite footage shot over the next two years to tell the story of a community struggling to rebuild itself.
The film belongs to a series exploring the extensive library of William Byrd II, a prominent 17th-century Virginian landowner and author. Taking as a point of departure Athanasius Kircher‘s Ars Magna Sciendi (often translated as The Great Art of Knowing), the film attempts a reconstruction of the lives of William Byrd and his daughter Evelyn, and underlines the centuries-old desire to build systems of total knowledge and complete understanding.
In addition to his 2005 Guggenheim Fellowship, Gatten has shown his films at the Whitney Biennial, the Toronto International Film Festival, the London Film Festival, and several other international film festivals. His work belongs to the permanent collections of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Whitney Museum of American Art, as well as those of numerous university and private collections.
Rights! Camera! Action! is starting off the spring semester with a screening of Hannah Weyer’s 2002 documentary, Escuela. This film centers on Liliana Luis, the daughter of Mexican American farm workers, as she begins her first year of high school.
No Umbrella (26 minutes) shows Fannie Lewis in action on November 2, 2004 as she struggles to manage a polling station in a predominantly African American precinct in Cleveland, Ohio. Facing record numbers at the polls, Ms. Lewis spends her day on a cell phone begging for the machines and the technical support Ward 7 needs to handle the throngs of frustrated voters. This documentary won the Jury Award for Best Short at the 2006 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival.
Please Vote for Me (58 minutes) is a portrait of a society and a town in through a school, its children and its families. In Wuhan, China, a 3rd grade class at Evergreen Primary School has their first encounter with democracy by holding an election to select a Class Monitor. Eight-year-olds compete against each other for the coveted position, abetted and egged on by teachers and doting parents.