August 18, 2010

When Spike Lee finished filming his latest HBO documentary in Louisiana on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina he had no idea of the oil spill that was to come months later. The filmmaker had to work quickly to change the fourth hour of the film to include some of the effects of the biggest oil disaster in history.

"We were finished shooting before April 20th, but when the rig blew up, and I would say 11 people got murdered, we had to rethink the whole thing," Lee told MSNBC's Keith Olbermann Tuesday. "So we made nine trips back and so the last hour of the four-hour piece all about BP."

The new documentary, "If God Is Willing & Da Creek Don't Rise," premieres on HBO Monday, Aug. 23 at 9:00 pm ET. Lee also produced the 2005 documentary "When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts."

Lee is appalled that BP has been allowed to be the deciding authority on which claims it wants to pay.

"People here are still waiting for a lot of stuff that was promised from the havoc of Hurricane Katrina and the breach in the levees. We're getting the same thing from BP," he said.

"I think only 25% of the claims have been settled by BP and you see these commercials, [public service announcement] commercials, they run day and night. They say, like, well, we'll decide if you have a legitimate claim," he continued.

"That's like the insurance companies deciding down here," Lee chuckled. "Very few people got their money."

Lee believes that the greed of companies like BP is a true threat to the US.

"I think this is going to bring about the downfall of the United States of America," he warned. "We have people in office appointed and voted in and people in big business positions who only care about the dollar bill and people get harmed, people die. They say, that's the cost of doing business."

"That blowout preventer cost a half million dollars. Now, who knows how many billions later they're paying out? If they would have just done what they were supposed to do, but MMS was bought out," Lee said.

Hundreds of people attended a screening of the new film Tuesday at the Mahalia Jackson Theater. Phyllis Montana-Leblanc, one of the stars, focused on the advances made in an interview with

Despite some lingering problems, “we’ve made a lot of progress here in New Orleans, depending on where you live,” Montana-LeBlanc said.

The city still doesn’t have a hospital in eastern New Orleans where she lives, she complained. And Nicholas — the 13-year-old son of her sister, Catherine Montana-Gordon — still can’t return to New Orleans “because the schools here are turning away special needs children.” But the progress in New Orleans is “indisputable,” Montana-LeBlanc said.

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