When the Levees Broke



When the Levees Broke, subtitled A Requiem in Four Acts is a 2006 documentary film directed by Spike Lee, about the devastation of New Orleans, Louisiana due to the failure of the levees during Hurricane Katrina. The film runs four hours, and premiered at the New Orleans Arena on August 16, 2006. The television premiere aired in two parts on August 21 and 22, 2006 on HBO. The film was shown in its entirety on August 29, 2006, the one-year anniversary of Katrina's landfall. It has been described by an HBO executive as "one of the most important films HBO has ever made."

The documentary was also screened at the 63rd Venice International Film Festival on August 31 and September 1, 2006. It won the Orizzonti Doc Prize and one of two FIPRESCI awards. In addition it was shown at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival on September 15 and September 16, 2006.

The title is a reference to the blues tune "When the Levee Breaks", by Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie (later repopularized by Led Zeppelin) about the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927.

The film's original score is by Terence Blanchard, a New Orleans-born trumpeter who also appears in the film with his mother and grandmother as they return to their flooded home.

The documentary consists largely of news footage and still photos of Katrina and its aftermath intersperced with interviews. Interviewees throughout the film include politicians, journalists, historians, engineers, and many people from various parts of New Orleans and the surrounding areas who give first hand accounts of their experiences with the levee failures and the aftermath.

People appearing in interviews include:

* Harry Belafonte, (Actor and Singer)
* Terence Blanchard, (New Orleans Jazz Musician)
* Kathleen Blanco, (Governor of Louisiana)
* Douglas Brinkley, (Professor of History at Tulane University)
* Karen Carter, (New Orleans Politician and Member of the Louisiana State Legislature)
* Louella Givens, (Representative, Second District of Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education)
* Mitch Landrieu, (Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana)
* Wynton Marsalis, (New Orleans Jazz Musician)
* Marc Morial, (Former Mayor of New Orleans and President and CEO of the National Urban League)
* Arthur Morrell, (New Orleans Politician and Member of the Louisiana State Legislature)
* Cynthia Hedge-Morrell, (Member of the New Orleans City Council)
* Ray Nagin, (Mayor of New Orleans)
* Soledad O'Brien, (Television Journalist)
* Sean Penn, (Actor)
* Wendell Pierce, (New Orleans Actor)
* Garland Robinette, (New Orleans Journalist and Radio Host)
* Junior Rodriguez, (President of the St. Bernard Parish Council)
* Reverend Al Sharpton, (Civil Rights Activist)
* Ivor van Heerden, (Deputy Director of the Louisiana State University Hurricane Center)

The first installment opens with a photo and film montage of historic and recent New Orleans scenes with a soundtrack of Louis Armstrong performing Louis Alter's "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans". At the end of the last episode is a similar montage with Fats Domino's "Walking to New Orleans" on the soundtrack.

The film focuses on the suffering of those affected by the disaster and their will to survive.

The film points out that the disaster in New Orleans was preventable, caused by levees poorly designed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers, with the suffering afterwards greatly compounded by failures at all levels of government, most severely at the Federal level. These points are in line with mainstream investigations, including the bipartisan U.S. Congressional report "A Failure of Initiative" and the Army Corps of Engineers own studies.Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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