While many of this year's feature documentary Oscar contenders focus on an inattentive (or worse) government, some are notable for their intimate portrayals of an individual. Kimberley Roberts, whose home-video footage of Hurricane Katrina forms the heart of Tia Lessin and Carl Deal's "Trouble the Water," lands squarely in both and she thinks that means something.
"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."