Sunday, August 29, 2010

Harry Shearer's Katrina Documentary

In our recent item about documentary filmmakers who become Hollywood moviemakers, we speculated that someday the trend might reverse itself -- and, as though on cue, we were reminded that Spike Lee's sprawling If God Is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise premiered last week on HBO. It's his second four-hour documentary about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, following 2006’s Peabody Award–winning When the Levees Broke.

This month the airwaves have been deluged with fifth-anniversary Katrina documentaries, ranging in tone from retrospective to investigative. On Monday, for one night only, Harry Shearer's own post-Katrina expose, The Big Uneasy, will screen in theaters nationwide.

Shearer is a man of many talents -- satirist, radio host, novelist, journalist, fine artist, and more. You've heard him as the voice of many Simpsons characters over the past 20 years, and have seen him perform in a comedic film genre he helped pioneer -- the mockumentary (Spinal Tap, A Mighty Wind, For Your Consideration).

But there's nothing funny about The Big Uneasy, which features Shearer interviewing New Orleans residents and officials to reveal that "some of the same flawed methods responsible for the levee failure during Katrina are being used to rebuild the system expected to protect the new New Orleans from future peril."

The Big Uneasy is laced with computer imagery that takes you inside the structures that failed so catastrophically, and boasts never–before–seen video of the moments when New Orleans began to flood and the painstaking investigations that followed. The Big Uneasy marks the beginning of the end of five years of ignorance about what happened to one of our nation’s most treasured cities — and serves as a stark reminder that the same agency that failed to protect New Orleans still exists in other cities across America.

Look for theaters near you, and show times, here.

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