We were among the 100 or so people at the 'pre-show' red carpet event. Of course, the "paparazzi" were present snapping away with their cameras. One of the more odd moments came when Al Sharpton arrived and made the rounds shaking hands. I wasn't really too interested in playing that charade so instead I went to the bathroom. Other celebrities present included rap music star C-Murder, Mayor Nagin, and of course Spike Lee. There were also several HBO employees, reporters, and a few other celebrities whose names I am unsure of who intermingled with the 100 or so of the 'rest of us' i.e. the everyday average people Spike had interviewed in the film. The social dynamics of all these various people with so many different agendas was certainly interesting so we had a lot of fun "people watching". Then the time came near for the movie to start. Of course, we had to take a few pictures on the 'red carpet' just to be completely absurd and then we made our way into the arena to our seats. The announcer introduced Spike who gave a brief speech where he warned the crowd that he hoped we had already used the bathroom. The crowd applauded and then the film began.
"When The Levees Broke" consists of 4 "Acts" each of which is an hour long. The acts roughly follow the sequence of events before, during, and after Katrina hit. There were numerous heart wrenching scenes that made me weep like a baby. But there were probably just as many (if not more) scenes that made the entire audience burst out in laughter. Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco took a few (but probably not enough) well deserved criticisms but the primary villains in the film are:
1- the St. Bernard Parish police government for not letting people escape New Orleans via a bridge instead turning them back at gunpoint.
2-FEMA for their ridiculously slow response
3-the Army Corps of Engineers for not building the levees strong enough with decades of neglect.
4-the Dubya Gump administration for the gross incompetence all the while proclaiming "Brownie your doing a heck of a job".
There were a few of the people interviewed who delved a bit into the proverbial 'conspiracy theories' but Spike let the people tell their own stories without agreeing or disagreeing with their points thereby letting the viewer form their own opinion of what to believe. At 4 hours, it was certainly long but just as it would start to get a little boring Spike would turn it back up a notch. I must say it felt great hearing the thunderous applause as the crowd cheered my words to The Dick Cheney!
Overall, as a victim of Hurricane Katrina's wrath, I believe the film does an excellent job at letting the people of New Orleans tell the stories of the things they encountered before, during, and after Katrina struck. The main negative I would say is the lack of coverage of the story of how Katrina affected Mississippi which actually took far worse damage from the storm itself. Of course, Spike told me that was one of the reasons he wanted me in the film to let people know that Mississippi was devastated as well but his primary goal was to cover the New Orleans aspect of the story. The movie will debut on HBO on Monday Aug. 21st with Acts I and II and on Tuesday Aug. 22nd with Acts III and IV. Then on August the 29th i.e. our wedding anniversary AND the one year anniversary of the storm HBO will air all four acts. I would say that EVERYONE (except for young children) should see this movie!