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Spike Lee’s Katrina Film Blames Bush

From Australia's Sydney Morning Herald:

Phyllis Montana-LeBlanc shows off her crew t-shirt at the premiere of the film 'When The Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts,' a documentary about the impact of Hurricane Katrina, in New Orleans August 16, 2006. LeBlanc, featured in the film, lost her home in the hurricane.

Bush the villain of Katrina film

Bob Dart
August 21, 2006

Tears marked his 70-year-old cheeks as Arthur Brown, leaning on a walking stick, walked from the film that sought to tell his story.

"I think it's a great movie," said Brown, on Spike Lee's documentary When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts.

"I'm mad," he said. "We lost everything. I've worked all my life – minimum-wage jobs – and raised eight children. Now I've got nothing. My wife is 65. What little savings we had is gone. FEMA [the Federal Emergency Management Agency] hasn't been any help. It's just not right."

Brown was among thousands of survivors of Hurricane Katrina at the world premiere of the four-hour film at the New Orleans Arena on Wednesday night.

One was Phyllis Montana LeBlanc, whose profane and sometimes profound commentary is a highlight of the film. "This was unnecessary," she said of the tragedy. "I hope everyone watches [the movie] and learns from it." …

Lee said his work was aimed at the forgetfulness of a nation. "People are still in dire straits," he said. "We want to put the focus back here." …

The Government is the villain in Lee's lens, and the audience of about 8000 booed when President George Bush and Michael Brown, the former director of FEMA, were on screen. Chuckles and jeers erupted at three rapidly repeated shots of Bush saying "Brownie, you did a heck of a job." 

While the film shows the raw power of the storm, it blames much of the tragedy on the failure of man-made levees and a negligent government response.

"What happened here was a criminal act, " Lee said.

A review in New Orleans' Times-Picayune criticised the film for focusing on the African-American experience and giving short shrift to white folks.

Lee said any reviewer who didn't see white faces must have slept through the film. Indeed, from a weeping disc jockey to an angry homeowner who said "Go f— yourself, Mr Cheney" when waylaid by a vice-presidential photo op, white people in the film drew applause from the mostly black viewers.

What a work of art.

Never mind that FEMA did a faster and better job responding to Hurricane Katrina than it ever has done with any national emergency before. Never mind that the overwhelming response from the US military and Nation Guard was splendid.

Never mind that the causalities were nothing like first feared. (And were disproportionately elderly and white.) Never mind that there wouldn't have been those if the order to evacuate had been carried out.

And never mind that tens of billions of dollars that have been poured into aid  for the survivors and reconstruction — much of which has been abused or even outright stolen.

No matter what was done or will be done, it will never be enough. Our one party media and the professional victims and willfully ignorant among us have their symbol of injustice.

Goebbels would be proud.

This article was posted by Steve on Sunday, August 20th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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