Spike Lee ReCaptures New Orleans in “If God Is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise”

August 25, 2010  |  

by De’Juan Galloway

In the headquarters of HBO in Midtown Manhattan, The Atlanta Post sat down with Emmy Award winning filmmaker Spike Lee to discuss his latest project, “If God Is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise”. The doc centers on the state of New Orleans’ since Hurricane Katrina’s impact, as seen in Lee‘s 2006 “‘When The Levees Broke.“ Shortly after Lee wrapped the initial production on April 20, 2010, the Bristish Petrolum oil spill took center stage. This prompted Lee to revisit the scope of the project to include the controversial spill and BP’s unkempt response. Lee’s spontaneous return to the gulf gives the film an unwavering organic charge, sure to have you glued to your seat for this four part feature.

Lee opens the film with a momentous mark of the city’s progression–the New Orleans Saints’ 2010 Superbowl appearance. ’Who Dat’ chants filled the Crescent City like the atrocious waters of Katrina, as the Saints ousted the Indianapolis Colts in Superbowl XLIV. A hallmark of hope for the disaster-stricken region. But images of celebration and hope take a back seat, as Katrina victims candidly tell stories of how the category five storm changed their lives and their city.

A scene from a city council meeting shows distraught activists declaring answers as to why demolition of housing projects has become an option. When police start using tazers and excessive force to constrain activists, the scene becomes reminiscent of the force used on Civil Rights demonstrators in the 60s.

“I don’t agree with the demolition of the projects, it was a gangster Corleone move,” said Lee.  “What to do about this proliferation of poor black people living in projects was always on the drawing boards, and Katrina’s mandatory evaluation offered the solution. When people came back after the moratorium was lifted, their homes were locked up, there was barbwire fence around the projects, they couldn’t get in and two years later they were knocked down.”

Lee assesses the impression the BP oil spill had on the Gulf Coast through the lens of Gulf Coast residents whose businesses and economics were affected by the contaminated waters.  He also spot lights the oil spill by implementing press footage of BP executives and politicians reacting to disaster – a recap of what many deem an incompetent response.

The narrative of the BP oil spill, told by gulf coasts residents and environmental experts illustrates the overarching story; proving that BP’s refusal to participate in the documentary had no impact on the feature. Lee says of BP declining participation in the documentary “We offered to interview BP, they did not want to do it, I didn’t lose any sleep over it. They would have told us some more lies anyway.”

This Spike Lee joint features diverse commentary from; Katrina victims, prominent politicians, experts, actor-activists Brad Pitt and Sean Penn. These host of voices lend a vividly painted picture of New Orleans’ progress or lack thereof after five years later. “If God Is Willing and Da  Creek Don’t Rise.” also raises important questions about corporate accountability and if the value of the dollar has precedence over the value human life and welfare.

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