As insurance companies win cases in the courts allowing them to not pay homeowners for damages from Hurricane Katrina, this week director Spike Lee has released the documentary When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts on HBO .

As the world watched in horror, Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans on August 29, 2005. Like many who watched the unfolding drama on television news, director Spike Lee was shocked not only by the scale of the disaster, but by the slow, inept and disorganized response of the emergency and recovery effort. Lee was moved to document this modern American tragedy, a morality play witnessed by people all around the world.

In an interview with Spike Lee, he says, “One of the significant things about the title is that most people think that it was Katrina that brought about the devastation to New Orleans. But it was a breaching of the levees that put 80 percent of the city under water. It was not the hurricane. And last week the United States Army Corps of Generals went on record and finally ‘fessed up, and said that we fucked up.”
As Doug Elfman wrote, “Instead of using a narrator, Lee lets scores of residents voice their own stories. Images revisit the chaotic horror in four-plus hours of chronology. The first half plots the storm’s course and the political squall to come. The second half powerfully measures the angry despair of death and desertion.
After a year, with much not having changed for the people of New Orleans and Hurricane survivors, Lee does an exceptional job in bringing the this issue back into the eye of the American people–this film is incredible–filled with image after image of the devastation, after two hours you are already rocked through–as a viewer you are only at day 5 after this two hour time period. The film is raw, as it should be, giving an unapologetic view that the current US administration shamelessly turned its back on New Orleans, the region and particularly on African Americans. Watch an interview with Spike on CNN and then, watch the film.
crossposted from jspot