Documentaries that take you for a walk in their shoes
"Trouble the Water" focuses attention on both the government and the individual.
"Trouble the Water" shows residents of New Orleans' 9th Ward, such as Kim and Scott Roberts, struggling to survive Katrina. (Zeitgeist Films)
"I'm expecting to win," she says. "I feel like I've come too far in my life not to win. I don't believe that's my fate."
Among other shortlisted films to paint a personal portrait are "Man on Wire," James Marsh's portrait of World Trade Center wire-walker Philippe Petit; Werner Herzog's Antarctic expedition "Encounters at the End of the World"; Scott Hicks' "Glass," about avant-garde composer Philip Glass; and the more surprising entry, Jeremiah Zagar's "In a Dream," a chronicle of his parents' decaying marriage enhanced by the brightly colored mosaic murals of his father, folk artist Isaiah Zagar.
Roberts says "Trouble the Water" has permanently changed her vision of herself. "Growing up in New Orleans, living in poverty, I didn't really have the chance to see the beautiful, talented, wonderful person I am until I saw myself on the big screen in that movie for the first time," she says. "If you're just trying to survive, trying to put bread on the table, you're not mindful of who you are."
Petit is more nonchalant about "Man on Wire" being named to the shortlist, not surprising for a man who, in 1974, spent 45 minutes balanced on a cable strung between New York's Twin Towers. "I wish the work a big success," he says, "but I am not crossing my fingers. I will be happy if it wins but I'm not living, trembling every day, looking at news and saying, 'Are we winning? Are we losing?' "
Adams is a freelance writer.