DAILY BEAST: “I was in London last fall when President Obama was paying his three-hour and 45-minute visit to New Orleans—slightly less time than it took to play the Super Bowl game,” Shearer tells me. “He referred to the flooding—in passing—as ‘a natural disaster.’ I just hit the roof. I went, ‘OK, blogs and radio and all the other things I’ve been doing clearly aren’t enough. I know what the next step is.’ And it was this.” “This” is The Big Uneasy, Shearer’s powerful documentary about the real culprit in the disaster that befell New Orleans five years ago—the Army Corps of Engineers. As Shearer abundantly demonstrates in his movie—which premieres August 30 in a one-night-only showing at 160-odd theaters nationwide—it was the Corps’ vast carelessness that caused the city’s levees to rupture amid the storm, sending the swelling waters of the Mississippi and Lake Pontchartrain rushing into residential neighborhoods, destroying thousands of houses and BigUneasyThe_final_v1.jpgkilling hundreds of people. And it would have been preventable, Shearer says, if the Corps had done its job. The documentary—which features voice-over work by Shearer’s fellow New Orleanean, Brad Pitt, as well as an appearance by resident John Goodman—is a meticulous study of what went wrong, and why, guided by a team of independent scientists and engineers who investigated the levee failures in the immediate aftermath of the storm.[…] Shearer says that beyond Obama’s provoking aside about natural disasters, he made the film “because the story hadn’t been told nationally in great detail or with the necessary potency. I think the reason for that is suggested by a quote I got from a respected news anchor. When I asked why viewers of that broadcast were, some months along, still ignorant of the reason why the city flooded, the reply was, ‘We just think the emotional stories are more compelling for our audience.’” I point out to Shearer—who is usually not so tactful when it comes to foolishness in the media—that he seems to be protecting the errant newscaster by not supplying his or her name. “I am indeed,” he agrees. “I may need to be on that broadcast to promote the movie.” MORE

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