Kids' Katrina Documentary to Open the Texas Black Film Festival This Week

A hell of a place to hold a film school, but this is where the young filmmakers behind Wade in the Water learned their craft -- in Central City's Life Insurance Building

Over the weekend, Tia Lessin and Carl Deal took home the Sundance Film Festival's Grand Jury Prize for their documentary Trouble the Water, about the lingering effects of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans; no doubt it won for its first-hand footage taken from literally within the eye of the storm itself. As it turns out, another kind of Katrina doc will makes it Dallas bow this Thursday, when the Texas Black Film Festival kicks off at the Studio Movie Grill in Addison.

Titled Wade in the Water, it's told from the perspective of children who survived the storm -- specifically, the students of Singleton Charter Middle School in Central City, the first school to reopen in New Orleans following the storm and the breaking of the levees. (It's located in a YMCA.) It was done with filmmakers Elizabeth Wood and Gabriel Nussbaum, who moved to New Orleans from New York to work with the kids there and wound up recruiting some 6th and 8th graders for an after-school documentary film class. Says the official Web site, the kids were "given video cameras and 'full creative control' to tell their stories," and the result is a film that, from the looks of these five minutes, has the potential to be astonishing and heartbreaking. The festival runs through Saturday. --Robert Wilonsky

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