Spike Lee plans to return to New Orleans for HBO to follow up the stories told in last year’s four-hour documentary about the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. Lee, who accepted a Peabody Award at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel on Monday for directing “When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts,” said he’s still not sure when that will be. Now is too soon, he said.
“The story is not over,” he said backstage. “It’s still something that’s evolving and we want to keep on top of it.”
His film was able to tell stories not often seen on television news because of the time he had to work with, and the ability to show things others couldn’t. Some of his interview subjects asked if he minded if they cursed; he said it proved essential to conveying the anger of the event. He collected footage of bloated bodies floating in the floodwaters near New Orleans, much of it taken by the BBC. American news networks could show little of it, he said.
Lee and his team were one of 35 winners of the 66th Annual Peabody Awards, given for excellence in electronic media. They included cable and network entertainment shows, as well as local and network news programs. Onstage, he told his audience that he became friends with many of the people featured in the program.
“Most of them are still up the creek without a paddle, abandoned by their local, state and federal governments,” he said. “We can’t forget about them.”