In Spike Lee’s lens

Filmmaker includes Coast in documentary

           Director Spike Lee talks with crew members during a shoot in Gulfport to film interviews for a follow-up to his Katrina documentary ‘When the Levees Broke.’

GULFPORT

Filmmaker Spike Lee said he is determined to find out what has happened to South Mississippians since Katrina made landfall here Aug. 29, 2005.

Lee was in Gulfport and surrounding cities Wednesday, filming a follow-up to his 2006 Katrina documentary “When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts.”

The new film, “If God is Willing and the Creek Don’t Rise,” will focus on the progress and failures in education, housing and population relocation, and will spotlight the spirit of South Mississippi residents.

The documentary also will feature recovery updates and personal stories from residents in New Orleans and Houston.

“After we finished the first documentary I knew we had to follow up in South Mississippi,” Lee said.

“People are still hurting. Making this film takes some detective work, but we are finding out that the people who lived here before Katrina do not want to just disappear from the grid — they want to come home and stay.”

Lee said there is no script; he and his crews go where the interviews lead.

“The people in New Orleans are strong but have little or no faith in the Army Corps of Engineers,” Lee said. “South Mississippians are strong, too, but they need to have faith in the local, state and federal government — these folks have to do their job.”

Some of those featured in the first Katrina documentary also will appear in the new film.

Lee and his crews tracked down Dr. Ben Marble, the man who turned Dick Cheney’s congressional expletive back on him during a walk through a devastated neighborhood in Gulfport after Katrina.

He will incorporate his footage into the film showing interviews with Gulfport Mayor George Schloegel, former Gulfport Mayor Brent Warr, Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove, members of the Steps Coalition for South Mississippi and many Coast residents.

Lee and his production crews interviewed residents mainly in Gulfport along Kelly Avenue, the beach and the streets around City Hall.

They also filmed interviews in Biloxi and Long Beach before heading back to New Orleans.

The film’s producer, Butch Robinson, said there are a lot of loose ends left five years after Katrina.

“Spike really wanted to explore the personal stories of those in the first documentary and other residents here in South Mississippi,” Robinson said.

“We did not do much filming in Mississippi for the first documentary but we know the brunt of the storm hit here, and we all want to know what is going on now.

“There are so many personal stories that need to be told.”

Lee is producing and directing the film on behalf of his company, 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks.

Sam Pollard will produce and edit the film, which will air in August on HBO.

“This coming Aug. 29, 2010, will be five years since one of the greatest American tragedies,” said Lee. “If God is willing and the creek don’t rise, we will reach the same level of heartfelt stories — human stories told by great people.” 

By LEIGH COLEMAN – Sun Herald
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