Tonight marks the premiere of the four-part documentary 'If God is Willing and Da Creek Don't Rise.' Available exclusively on HBO, this new miniseries from acclaimed director Spike Lee looks at the citizens of New Orleans five years after the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina. Originally, 'If God is Willing' was intended as a follow-up to Lee's 2006 HBO documentary 'When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts,' a project that chronicled the residents of Louisiana in the wake of that storm. But this new film took on unplanned urgency after the events of the BP oil disaster off the Gulf Coast.

The director quickly moved to cover all the spill's complexities and document the new threats posed for residents of a still-recovering Louisiana. Lee sat down with Moviefone to raise awareness of BP's villainous role in the disaster, the plight of the Louisiana citizens, and how we can all help prevent a disaster like this from occurring again.

Tonight marks the premiere of the four-part documentary 'If God is Willing and Da Creek Don't Rise.' Available exclusively on HBO, this new miniseries from acclaimed director Spike Lee looks at the citizens of New Orleans five years after the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina. Originally, 'If God is Willing' was intended as a follow-up to Lee's 2006 HBO documentary 'When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts,' a project that chronicled the residents of Louisiana in the wake of that storm. But this new film took on unplanned urgency after the events of the BP oil disaster off the Gulf Coast.

The director quickly moved to cover all the spill's complexities and document the new threats posed for residents of a still-recovering Louisiana. Lee sat down with Moviefone to raise awareness of BP's villainous role in the disaster, the plight of the Louisiana citizens, and how we can all help prevent a disaster like this from occurring again.

It's really important that this in-depth coverage about the BP disaster exists, and more importantly, it's great to see it available for the public so soon after the story broke.

The reason why no one's done it really is cause we were lucky. We were just doing this documentary on the region before April 20th. So when April 20th happened, we had to change it up; we knew this was going to be a big story and it had to be included. But when it happened, I didn't know, and our filmmakers didn't know that this would turn out to be the biggest oil disaster in the history of the world. No one knew that on April 20th.

How do you look past the outrage of the disaster, and cover the story objectively?

I have a great partner on this: Sam Pollard. Sam's a co-producer on this, and the supervising editor, which he was on 'Levees' too. And he's cut several of my narrative films, so we have a very good rapport. And we really hate narration in documentaries. We want the people to tell the story. It's very simple for us: Let the people tell the story. And once you get that story, you got to use your filmmaking skills to give it a narrative, to mold it, shape it, pound it, massage it together. Cause it's telling stories ... The whole premise is we're going back to see what has happened in the last five years, and I would have been strung up if this wasn't in it. If this wasn't in it, people would have thought I was on the BP payroll, like a lot of these scientists are now.

You don't believe some of the reports that say 75 percent of the oil is cleaned up?

It's f***ing bulls***.

A lot of people don't trust any reports coming directly from BP about the clean-up process.

They were lying from the get-go! Why would we believe anything they say? They can't buy everybody, you know? Some people won't be on the BP payroll.

It's a frustrating story; what kind of objectivity did you want to maintain when making the documentary?

Whatever I do, I'm going to have some sort of opinion on it. Now if I'm very opinionated about a subject matter or issue, I'm going to let a couple people give to the argument of what I feel. But in dealing with BP, there's no way -- as I think I have morals and scruples -- there's no way I can be impartial for what those motherf****s did ... They're the villains, they're the bad guys. They're straight-up gangstas, like many people say. Like my man Calvin Mackie [of the Louisiana Recovery Authority] said, "What does a gangsta do? They just give it to you raw. No grease, not butter." And that's what BP's done.

But some of that's our fault because the government is allowing them to do that. How can BP tell the FAA who can fly and where? How can BP tell the Coast Guard who can go where in the water? How can BP dictate the EPA about dispersing Corexit. [EPA Administrator] Lisa Jackson wrote them a letter saying "We have problems with the dispersal, Corexit." They wrote back -- in essence -- "F*** you. We're still using it." How does that happen?! It's not supposed to be like that, and that's one of the reasons I included General Honoré [commander of Joint Task Force Katrina]. Because it's not only me -- several people have said that if Gen. Honoré had been in charge of this thing, instead of Thad Allen [commandant of the Coast Guard], he would have been the person telling BP what to do, and not the other way around.

It's just maddening to see all the evidence presented that shows BP can dictate policy.

The reason why they can do that is because the oil/gas industry -- they make more money than any other industry on this planet, and to get their way -- they buy people. How did they get U.S. Mineral Management Service? Super Bowl tickets, money, sex orgies -- who knows what else? Name me one politician that does not get money from oil and gas? Nobody. They're the biggest lobbyists here. They just buy it, they're gangstas when it comes down to it. Most of the time we equate gangstas with the Mafia, but these guys are worse.

It's an apt comparison; I certainly felt that way watching the events unfold.

The sad thing is that we, the American public, are gullible and we're going for it. For me, there should have been a national outrage last week when the stories started coming out that 75 percent of the oil has disappeared. Let's clarify: Is that oil on the surface? Cause maybe on the surface. Maybe.

And here's the key thing: We know about the oil, but no one's said BP knows how many gallons, how many millions of gallons of dispersants have been dumped. And no one knows the effect of these dispersions on the environment. And that's something that not a lot of people are talking about ... I bet in the long run, they're going to find out that the dispersants are more harmful than the oil. When babies are going to start having two heads, we won't have to go too far. This is for real, this stuff is happening today.

Were you worried that 'If God is Willing ...' would be distorted and used for a political argument?

No. I think that anything we've done in 'Levees,' this film, and even my narrative films, I stand behind. We're not lying, we're not making stuff up. I'm not telling people what to say. I'm talking to fishermen, whose fathers were shrimpers, whose grandfathers, great-grandfathers were fishermen -- it's all they know how to do. And now they don't know what they're going to do with the rest of their lives, possibly. I'm not telling them what to say. This stuff is from their heart.

The film ends on an urgent note reminding viewers that hurricane season is approaching, at the same time as the clean-up process.


We're not trying to be Chicken Little and say the sky is falling, but it's our duty as filmmakers to include that. I didn't tell people to say that and more than one person said it. People are on pins and needles, and they just hope they can get through this hurricane season.

Trying to fix the problem can seem so overwhelming. What do you think is the best way to combat that feeling?

I think we got to make it personal. We got to start recycling. I'm going to be honest, until I made this film, I wasn't doing s***. My office too. This film made me start thinking about recycling, and now we got stuff in my office, stuff in my home. I'm flicking off switches like a motherf**** and turning the light off. Not leaving the air conditioner on overnight. I'm on it [laughs]. That's the effect this thing has had on me personally.

What do you want the viewing public to take away from the film's final note?

To be honest, not just the documentary films but even the feature films, I really do not try to tell audiences what to feel or dictate; I respect their intelligence and they're going to take out of it what they want to take out of it, according to their own experience. But saying that -- if we just focus on the BP thing -- the one thing I do hope for everybody who sees this film is we got to get off our addiction to fossil fuel. I think that's the only positive we can get out of this BP thing. That's it, everything else is f***** up. In a huge way. But the only positive is, like John Kerry said, every president since Nixon has put in legislation about this energy thing, and we as a country are still driving big-ass SUVs, not turning off lights, not recycling. With enough people, that's going to make a great impact. And this oil, this gas is not going to last forever; it's limited. It's not forever.

'If God is Willing and Da Creek Don't Rise' airs in four parts on HBO: Parts 1 & 2 premiere Monday, August 23 at 9PM, and Parts 3 & 4 will be shown on Tuesday, August 24 at 9PM.