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Spike Lee's mournful, indignant four-hour documentary investigation into the 2005 Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans and other Gulf Coast locations takes its time and builds its case carefully -- and when he's through, FEMA and the Bush administration have been tried and convicted in their colossally inept response to what might have been an avoidable loss of life and property. Essentially, those who could afford to flee the flood, did; the poor (among them much of NOLa's African-American population) were left behind to suffer and die, waiting for federal aid that came too late. Talking heads aplenty, but the big-shots are upstaged by ordinary people from the Lower Ninth Ward. Made for HBO (240 min., 2006).

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When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts is not showing in any theaters in the area.

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