This intimate, heart-rending portrait of New Orleans in the wake of the destruction tells the heartbreaking personal stories of those who endured this harrowing ordeal and survived to tell the tale of misery, despair and triumph.
The film also looks at a community that has been through hell and back, surviving death, devastation and disease at every turn. Yet, somehow, amidst the ruins, the people of New Orleans are finding new hope and strength as the city rises from the ashes, buoyed by their own resilience and a rich cultural legacy.
“New Orleans is fighting for its life,” says Lee. “These are not people who will disappear quietly – they’re accustomed to hardship and slights, and they’ll fight for New Orleans. This film will showcase the struggle for New Orleans by focusing on the profound loss, as well as the indomitable spirit of New Orleaneans.”
Three months after Katrina struck, Lee, cameraman Cliff Charles and a small crew made the first of eight trips to New Orleans to conduct interviews and shoot footage for the film. With so many people affected, Lee had a wide range of subjects and opinions to choose from. “Spike wanted to offer multiple points of view,” says his longtime editor, Sam Pollard. “He needed to represent the voices from the community, the different levels of government, activists and the celebrity element to provide a balanced take on the issues facing New Orleans.”
Lee and his team selected close to 100 people from diverse backgrounds and representing a wide range of opinions to interview, including Governor Kathleen Blanco; Mayor Ray Nagin; residents Phyllis Montana LeBlanc, Kimberly Polk, Shelton “Shakespeare” Alexander and Rev. Williams; activists Al Sharpton and Harry Belafonte; CNN’s Soledad O’Brien; and musicians Wynton Marsalis, Terence Blanchard and Kanye West. —HBO
As a writer, director, actor, producer, author, and entrepreneur, Spike Lee has revolutionized the role of black talent in Hollywood, tearing away decades of stereotypes and marginalized portrayals to establish a new arena for Afro-American voices to be heard. His movies, a series of outspoken and provocative socio-political critiques informed by an unwavering commitment toward challenging cultural assumptions not only about race but also class and gender identity, both solidified his own standing as one of contemporary cinema’s most influential figures and furthered the careers of actors including Denzel Washington, Wesley Snipes, Samuel L. Jackson, Angela Bassett, and Laurence Fishburne. Born Shelton Jackson Lee in Atlanta, GA, on March 20, 1957, he was raised in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn. After attending Atlanta’s prestigious Morehouse College, returned to New York to make his first movie, 1977’s Last Hustle in Brooklyn, a portrait of the area’s Black and Puerto Rican communities… read more