While somereporters, newspaper editors and some readers/viewers are complaining of what’sbeing called “Katrina fatigue,” filmmaker Spike Lee says he’s ready to do afollow up film to his critically acclaimed HBO documentary on HurricaneKatrina, “When The Levees Broke.”
Lee told theAmerican Society of Newspaper Editors he wants to focus more of his newdocumentary on the Gulf Coast region outside of New Orleans mostly inMississippi. “Next month, we’re going back to HBO and discuss how we cancontinue this,” Lee said. “The Gulf Coast will be a much bigger part, We didn’tforget about you.”
During the closingluncheon, Lee introduced three New Orleans residents who were featured in hisaward-winning Katrina documentary. The Katrina victims – Fred J. Johnson,Phyliss Montana LeBlanc and Gralen B. Banks – who told the editors that thestory isn’t over.
LeBlanc told of the toll stress was taking,as she held up a collection of medications she said she had been prescribed —not that she was taking them all, she said. She told of two women who died insuccession in the same family. When the second one died, the family had run outof money, and LeBlanc said she appealed to Lee for funds to bury her. Lee respondedby overnight mail.
Banks, who like LeBlanc is still living in aFEMA trailer 19 months after the disaster struck, alluded to an earlynews-media controversy: What to call the victims. "Refugees," hesaid, are people without a country. "Let the world know that this is stillAmerica and it shouldn't be happening to us. This is not right," saidBanks, who headed security at the Hyatt Hotel in the city. "You called usrefugees," he said, and "you separated us."
The stories prompted Lee to say, “Forget aboutKatrina fatigue… Five or 10 years from now, are you going to remember that 'Icovered "American Idol,"' or what you're covering here?"
Next week in New York City, Lee will bepresented with the George K. Polk Award for “When The Levees Broke: A Requiemin Four Acts.” The film “celebrated and mourned New Orleans, presentingpersonal accounts of those directly affected by Hurricane Katrina and evidenceof gross governmental neglect and ineptitude surrounding one of the worstnatural disasters this country has ever faced.