Monday, August 21, 2006

When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts

The broadcast of Spike Lee's Film "When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts," begins tonight 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. The result is WHEN THE LEVEES BROKE: A REQUIEM IN FOUR ACTS. The film is structured in four acts, each dealing with a different aspect of the events that preceded and followed Katrina's catastrophic passage through New Orleans. Acts I and II premiere Monday, August 21 at 9pm (ET/PT), followed by Acts III and IV on Tuesday, August 22 at 9pm. All four acts will be seen Tuesday, Aug. 29 (8:00 p.m.-midnight), the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Read more.

Lee and his team selected close to 100 people from diverse backgrounds and representing a wide range of opinions to interview, including Governor Kathleen Blanco; Mayor Ray Nagin; residents Phyllis Montana LeBlanc, Kimberly Polk, Shelton "Shakespeare" Alexander and Rev. Williams; activists Al Sharpton and Harry Belafonte; CNN's Soledad O'Brien; and musicians Wynton Marsalis, Terence Blanchard and Kanye West.

Lee uses key elements of New Orleans' cultural legacy to illustrate its history of surviving against the odds. Long before Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans and its citizens developed coping strategies for dealing with tragedy. Its aboveground cemeteries are not only practical, but evidence of a people used to the sight of death. The traditional jazz funerals - musical parades that mourn death, and then celebrate life - serve as testament to that fact.
Read more of this overview.

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