The rains stop before Hurricane Katrina documentary Trouble the Water is even half over. That's right about the time the batteries run out on Kimberly Rivers Roberts' camcorder, just as she and her husband realize that holing up in their attic hasn't gotten them to high enough ground—water has flooded their kitchen and bedrooms, and is now rising toward them.

The grainy and jostled footage filmed as Roberts kept her handheld camera rolling through the storm and its aftermath makes for an honest, riveting, and damning documentary about one Lower Ninth Ward family that the government failed. When it becomes clear that Roberts and her neighbors will have to rescue themselves or die in their homes, the tight-knit group relies on their street skills to get the hell out of New Orleans. From the passenger seat of a hotwired truck packed with 25 now-homeless friends, Roberts captures evocative scenes of a chaotic, filthy, and abandoned city.

Thankfully, Trouble the Water stays focused on Roberts' captivating personal story, not the politics that shape it. An amateur hiphop artist, she drives the film's narrative with her determination to survive, rebuild, and kick the asses of the leaders who left her family behind.