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Spike Lee’s follow-up HBO documentary on Hurricane Katrina’s impact on New Orleans took an unexpected detour after the Gulf Coast oil spill.
At TCA, Lee said the fourth and final hour of his upcoming film “If God Is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise” will be devoted to the impact of the disaster on the region, and that his crew went back seven times to get more footage after the spill.
“BP cut some corners, went around safety regulations, the thing blew up, 11 people died and it changed the whole outlook,” Lee said. “We had to rethink everything.”
Lee justified the inclusion of material on the oil spill in a documentary about Katrina, saying “the connective tissue is greed.”
“I don’t care how many scientists BP buys, that oil is still there,” Lee said. “BP has been lying from the get-go … we’ve had the biggest oil disaster in the world and it’s all gone now? … Don’t say okey-dokie when they say 75% of the oil is gone. Where did it go? No damage done to the wetlands? I don’t believe it.”
Lee says his crew was prevented from shooting in sensitive areas by the Coast Guard.
“It’s really eye-opening the power that BP has,” Lee said. “They were running the show.”
The filmmaker also praised the efforts of two celebrities who’ve been occasionally mocked for their social justice efforts. Brad Pitt, who has worked in the region, as well as Sean Penn, who is attempting to help earthquake victims in Haiti.
“Sean Penn he doesn’t live in the United States any more,” Lee said. “He lives in Port-au-Prince. That’s his life now, trying to get this country on its feet. I have to commend him for that. He’s not living in a palace, he’s living in a tent. I know because I slept three nights there. It’s a tent-tent. He’s put in his dues and time to speak about Haiti.”
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