Academy Award-nominated filmmaker, Spike Lee, has a few choice words for British Petroleum’s former CEO, Tony Hayward, over his handling of the Gulf coast oil disaster.
In his latest documentary, “If God Is Willing and Da Creek Don't Rise,” the follow-up to “When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts,” Lee blames BP for "cutting corners" and causing the biggest oil spill in history.
“There is no industry on this planet that makes more money than the oil and gas industry. It’s obvious they are very powerful. They can tell the United States government what to do, and dictate to the coast guards what to do,” says Lee who was initially just filming a follow-up piece to Hurricane Katrina when the oil disaster struck on April 20th.
“This film is trying to tell what has happened in the last five years since August 29th, 2005, so therefore we have to include the biggest oil disaster in the history of the world. It had to be included, so we had to start shooting again. We just went out and made more trips to New Orleans. It changed the structure,” Lee says.
In the four-hour, two-part documentary, Lee is not only outraged about the oil giant’s drilling, but upset that President Barack Obama "showed little emotion," calling the president's actions "too laid back."
“The government response to the BP oil disaster was much better than the Bush response to Hurricane Katrina, but I think the people in Louisiana wished they would have seen a little more emotion from him because I know he cares, but his persona is too laid back and cool, so he looked like he didn’t care. You have fisherman whose livelihood has been completely wiped out. BP is not God. F*** BP. It was due to greed that the rig blew up, because they were glossing over safety procedures, and now 11 people are dead. Every time you cut corners, it’s going to come back and bite your ass!” slams the filmmaker.
Featuring personal stories from residents in Houston, where an estimated 150,000 New Orleans evacuees remain, the film also looks at other areas along the Gulf where rebuilding has progressed.
“Some parts of the city are rebuilt,” adds Lee, “but a lot of houses in those areas are in the same condition they were five years ago.”
With more than 300 people, including former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin, weighing in on the aftermath of Katrina and the oil disaster, the documentary also focuses on the progress and failures in education, housing and population relocation since the hurricane.
“This thing is still playing out,” continues Lee, “We knew when we finished the first film that the story wasn’t over. It was clear it would take a long time for the city to get back on its feet, and I’m proud HBO has given me the opportunity to tell the stories of these great Americans. I still don’t believe the oil is all gone,” Lee adds. “A bigger point, which comes up in the film, is that we have to get off our addiction to fossil fuel and start recycling. That’s one of the reasons why we gave Brad Pitt love in this film. He’s just a private citizen with a lot of money and connections, but he is building solar homes for people in New Orleans. The big question is -- why can’t the United States government do that? Why is Brad Pitt doing it?”
As for Tony Hayward, who became a lightning rod for public outrage for saying he “wanted his life back”, and going yachting while the colossal environmental disaster spiraled out of control, Lee has one question for him: “Did you get your life back?”
“If God Is Willing and Da Creek Don't Rise” airs Aug. 23, 24 exclusively on HBO.