Posted on October 13, 2005

Lee to Take Spiky Look at Katrina

Guardian (London), Oct. 13

Spike Lee is to produce and direct a documentary about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina for HBO, Variety reports. Provisionally entitled When the Levee Broke, early indications suggest it will continue Lee’s tradition of polemical films addressing the US’s fraught race relations.

Lee has never been one to shy away from controversy, with films such as Do The Right Thing, about a race riot in Brooklyn; Jungle Fever, taking a contentious look at mixed-race love affairs, and his eponymous Malcolm X biopic.

When the Levee Broke is currently waiting to go into production while Lee completes work on thriller The Inside Man, starring Denzel Washington, Jodie Foster and Clive Owen. But an interview earlier this week gave an early pointer to the line he is likely to take.

The poor, black neighbourhoods of New Orleans suffered particularly badly after the devastating hurricane struck at the end of August. During an appearance on CNN this week, to promote his memoir That’s My Story and I’m Sticking To It, Lee was asked about the conspiracy theories that the largely black Ninth ward of the city had been deliberately flooded by authorities.

He said: “I don’t put anything past the United States government. I don’t find it too far-fetched that they tried to displace all the black people out of New Orleans.”

The film will be Lee’s second documentary for the cable TV and film producer HBO. It follows 1997’s 4 Little Girls, which revisited the 1963 bombing of a black Alabama church that killed four children.