To mark the one-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe, If God Is Willing and da Creek Don’t Rise comes to DVD from HBO. Spike Lee’s angry and magnificent follow-up to When The Levees Broke tracks how the U.S. exploitation of resources, in particular oil, has shaped New Orleans’ ongoing fragility. As Fred Johnson, Executive Director of the New Orleans Neighborhood Development Foundation, puts it, “America is a capitalist society. All of it is about money.” The four-hour film features testimony from a range of interview subjects—survivors of Katrina, politicians and activists till responding to Katrina—demonstrating that problems remain are systemic, drawing connections not only between New Orleans’ past and present, but also between New Orleans and other places, such as sister city Port au Prince. Sean Penn points out the common point of departure for the devastations of the storm and the earthquake in Haiti. “This problem is poverty,” he says, and “the similarity is race. There’s no way that if this was a white island that this type of incredible neglect by a superpower neighbor could happen.” Lee’s film is pointed and poignant, underscoring the responsibilities abandoned by too many individuals, as well as government and corporate bodies.
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