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Front Page, TIFF 2006

Spike Lee chronicles Hurricane Katrina in doc ‘When The Levees Broke’

TORONTO (CP) _ The anti-George W. Bush rhetoric that has been a near-constant refrain at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival reached a crescendo Friday when Spike Lee sat down to discuss his epic documentary on hurricane Katrina.

"There’s a swing happening … A lot of people are finally waking up that this is the worst president in the history of the United States of America," Lee told a news conference to promote "When The Levees Broke: A Requiem In Four Acts."

"He’s taking us to hell in a handbag. …. I just hope people finally wake up and don’t go for ‘okey-dokey’ again. Get hoodwinked. Led astray. Run amok. Here’s a new one _ hornswoggled," added the acclaimed director, riffing on a famous Malcolm X speech.

"When the Levees Broke," which recently won the documentary prize at the Venice Film Festival, is an exhaustive account of the devastation that struck New Orleans late last summer, and the sluggish reaction by Bush and his administration, as well as other top officials.

Told through newsreel footage and interviews with a wide range of subjects _ including residents affected by the storm, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, Rev. Al Sharpton, entertainer Harry Belafonte, CNN reporter Soledad O’Brien and rapper Kanye West _ the HBO documentary clocks in at a whopping four hours. Lee said it would be a "criminal act" to cram it in to two hours, adding he’s not done with the topic just yet.

"We wanted this to be the definitive living document on when the levees broke. Even saying that… it’s still an incomplete piece, because New Orleans is incomplete, the future of New Orleans is up in the air. So hopefully we will get a chance to go back and stay with this."

The director is also developing a TV show based on the current struggles of New Orleans residents.

"Post-Katrina, the obituary column in the Times-Picayune (newspaper) is 30 per cent more," Lee said.

"Suicides are up … People are just buggin’. And there are no facilities to deal with the mental-health issue down there. This stuff is going to have reverberations for many years to come. When you have children who’ve seen their parents drown in front of them or parents who have seen their children drown in front of them, I mean how do you deal with that?"

"Levees" lands at the Toronto festival after a week of persistent Bush-bashing.

Actor Sean Penn called the U.S. president a "dumb Beelzebub" at one news conference while audiences saw the fictional assassination of Bush acted out in another festival entry, "Death of a President." "Bobby" director Emilio Estevez also lashed out at the administration.

Not surprisingly, Lee pulls no punches in "Where The Levees Broke," taking aim at officials and politicians who appeared to dawdle while scores of New Orleans residents were starving and stranded. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is shown shopping for designer shoes and attending a performance of "Spamalot" during Katrina’s aftermath. Bush himself is shown surveying the wreckage from the comfort of Air Force One.

In another devastating segment, CNN’s O’Brien hammers FEMA’s Michael Brown about why the media has better intelligence about the storm than he does. And then there is the now-infamous remark by former first lady Barbara Bush, who suggested poor people from Louisiana being housed in the Houston Astrodome were actually better off after the hurricane struck.

"Levees" ends on an ominous note, which Lee reiterated Friday. Said the director: "Don’t let anybody tell you differently. Today those levees and floodwalls are not safe. Compared to state-of-the-art levees in countries like the Netherlands, the New Orleans flood protection system looks like "tiddlywinks," he added.

"This is supposed to be the most powerful, richest, country in the world? … But they’re not concerned about (New Orleans), they’d rather go to Mars, go to the moon, go to Iraq, Iran … it’s not a priority," he said.

"You can’t say that Katrina was it. … The next 10 to 15 years, hurricanes are still going to come… It’s going to take somebody in charge to say this is a priority and make it a priority."

Canadian viewers can see "When The Levees Broke" Sept. 21 at 9 p.m. ET on The Movie Network and Sept. 24 at 3 p.m. PT on Movie Central (check local listings).

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Front Page, TIFF 2006

Spike Lee chronicles Hurricane Katrina in doc ‘When The Levees Broke’

TORONTO (CP) _ The anti-George W. Bush rhetoric that has been a near-constant refrain at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival reached a crescendo Friday when Spike Lee sat down to discuss his epic documentary on hurricane Katrina.

"There’s a swing happening … A lot of people are finally waking up that this is the worst president in the history of the United States of America," Lee told a news conference to promote "When The Levees Broke: A Requiem In Four Acts."

"He’s taking us to hell in a handbag. …. I just hope people finally wake up and don’t go for ‘okey-dokey’ again. Get hoodwinked. Led astray. Run amok. Here’s a new one _ hornswoggled," added the acclaimed director, riffing on a famous Malcolm X speech.

"When the Levees Broke," which recently won the documentary prize at the Venice Film Festival, is an exhaustive account of the devastation that struck New Orleans late last summer, and the sluggish reaction by Bush and his administration, as well as other top officials.

Told through newsreel footage and interviews with a wide range of subjects _ including residents affected by the storm, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, Rev. Al Sharpton, entertainer Harry Belafonte, CNN reporter Soledad O’Brien and rapper Kanye West _ the HBO documentary clocks in at a whopping four hours. Lee said it would be a "criminal act" to cram it in to two hours, adding he’s not done with the topic just yet.

"We wanted this to be the definitive living document on when the levees broke. Even saying that… it’s still an incomplete piece, because New Orleans is incomplete, the future of New Orleans is up in the air. So hopefully we will get a chance to go back and stay with this."

The director is also developing a TV show based on the current struggles of New Orleans residents.

"Post-Katrina, the obituary column in the Times-Picayune (newspaper) is 30 per cent more," Lee said.

"Suicides are up … People are just buggin’. And there are no facilities to deal with the mental-health issue down there. This stuff is going to have reverberations for many years to come. When you have children who’ve seen their parents drown in front of them or parents who have seen their children drown in front of them, I mean how do you deal with that?"

"Levees" lands at the Toronto festival after a week of persistent Bush-bashing.

Actor Sean Penn called the U.S. president a "dumb Beelzebub" at one news conference while audiences saw the fictional assassination of Bush acted out in another festival entry, "Death of a President." "Bobby" director Emilio Estevez also lashed out at the administration.

Not surprisingly, Lee pulls no punches in "Where The Levees Broke," taking aim at officials and politicians who appeared to dawdle while scores of New Orleans residents were starving and stranded. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is shown shopping for designer shoes and attending a performance of "Spamalot" during Katrina’s aftermath. Bush himself is shown surveying the wreckage from the comfort of Air Force One.

In another devastating segment, CNN’s O’Brien hammers FEMA’s Michael Brown about why the media has better intelligence about the storm than he does. And then there is the now-infamous remark by former first lady Barbara Bush, who suggested poor people from Louisiana being housed in the Houston Astrodome were actually better off after the hurricane struck.

"Levees" ends on an ominous note, which Lee reiterated Friday. Said the director: "Don’t let anybody tell you differently. Today those levees and floodwalls are not safe. Compared to state-of-the-art levees in countries like the Netherlands, the New Orleans flood protection system looks like "tiddlywinks," he added.

"This is supposed to be the most powerful, richest, country in the world? … But they’re not concerned about (New Orleans), they’d rather go to Mars, go to the moon, go to Iraq, Iran … it’s not a priority," he said.

"You can’t say that Katrina was it. … The next 10 to 15 years, hurricanes are still going to come… It’s going to take somebody in charge to say this is a priority and make it a priority."

Canadian viewers can see "When The Levees Broke" Sept. 21 at 9 p.m. ET on The Movie Network and Sept. 24 at 3 p.m. PT on Movie Central (check local listings).

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Front Page, TIFF 2006

Spike Lee chronicles Hurricane Katrina in doc ‘When The Levees Broke’

TORONTO (CP) _ The anti-George W. Bush rhetoric that has been a near-constant refrain at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival reached a crescendo Friday when Spike Lee sat down to discuss his epic documentary on hurricane Katrina.

"There’s a swing happening … A lot of people are finally waking up that this is the worst president in the history of the United States of America," Lee told a news conference to promote "When The Levees Broke: A Requiem In Four Acts."

"He’s taking us to hell in a handbag. …. I just hope people finally wake up and don’t go for ‘okey-dokey’ again. Get hoodwinked. Led astray. Run amok. Here’s a new one _ hornswoggled," added the acclaimed director, riffing on a famous Malcolm X speech.

"When the Levees Broke," which recently won the documentary prize at the Venice Film Festival, is an exhaustive account of the devastation that struck New Orleans late last summer, and the sluggish reaction by Bush and his administration, as well as other top officials.

Told through newsreel footage and interviews with a wide range of subjects _ including residents affected by the storm, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, Rev. Al Sharpton, entertainer Harry Belafonte, CNN reporter Soledad O’Brien and rapper Kanye West _ the HBO documentary clocks in at a whopping four hours. Lee said it would be a "criminal act" to cram it in to two hours, adding he’s not done with the topic just yet.

"We wanted this to be the definitive living document on when the levees broke. Even saying that… it’s still an incomplete piece, because New Orleans is incomplete, the future of New Orleans is up in the air. So hopefully we will get a chance to go back and stay with this."

The director is also developing a TV show based on the current struggles of New Orleans residents.

"Post-Katrina, the obituary column in the Times-Picayune (newspaper) is 30 per cent more," Lee said.

"Suicides are up … People are just buggin’. And there are no facilities to deal with the mental-health issue down there. This stuff is going to have reverberations for many years to come. When you have children who’ve seen their parents drown in front of them or parents who have seen their children drown in front of them, I mean how do you deal with that?"

"Levees" lands at the Toronto festival after a week of persistent Bush-bashing.

Actor Sean Penn called the U.S. president a "dumb Beelzebub" at one news conference while audiences saw the fictional assassination of Bush acted out in another festival entry, "Death of a President." "Bobby" director Emilio Estevez also lashed out at the administration.

Not surprisingly, Lee pulls no punches in "Where The Levees Broke," taking aim at officials and politicians who appeared to dawdle while scores of New Orleans residents were starving and stranded. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is shown shopping for designer shoes and attending a performance of "Spamalot" during Katrina’s aftermath. Bush himself is shown surveying the wreckage from the comfort of Air Force One.

In another devastating segment, CNN’s O’Brien hammers FEMA’s Michael Brown about why the media has better intelligence about the storm than he does. And then there is the now-infamous remark by former first lady Barbara Bush, who suggested poor people from Louisiana being housed in the Houston Astrodome were actually better off after the hurricane struck.

"Levees" ends on an ominous note, which Lee reiterated Friday. Said the director: "Don’t let anybody tell you differently. Today those levees and floodwalls are not safe. Compared to state-of-the-art levees in countries like the Netherlands, the New Orleans flood protection system looks like "tiddlywinks," he added.

"This is supposed to be the most powerful, richest, country in the world? … But they’re not concerned about (New Orleans), they’d rather go to Mars, go to the moon, go to Iraq, Iran … it’s not a priority," he said.

"You can’t say that Katrina was it. … The next 10 to 15 years, hurricanes are still going to come… It’s going to take somebody in charge to say this is a priority and make it a priority."

Canadian viewers can see "When The Levees Broke" Sept. 21 at 9 p.m. ET on The Movie Network and Sept. 24 at 3 p.m. PT on Movie Central (check local listings).

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Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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