A Conversation with Spike Lee: Maverick Storyteller

Spike Lee Conversation

A Conversation with Spike Lee: Maverick Storyteller

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Whether or not you like Spike Lee or have ever seen a Spike Lee film is irrelevant. You have an opinion of him as an individual and as a thinker. Over the course of Spike Lee's eclectic career, the media has created a persona of near mythic proportions--"angry," "brilliant," "controversial"--but often left out is that he has become one of America's most talented, intelligent and prolific filmmakers.

Lee was born in Atlanta, Georgia and raised in Brooklyn, the son of an accomplished jazz bassist (his father, Bill Lee, scores many of his films). Lee was not always driven to be a filmmaker--wanting to play second base for the New York Mets. When it came time to declare his major, however, at the prestigious Morehouse College, he decided on mass communication. The summer of 1977 found him, Super 8 camera in-hand, spending his months out of school shooting whatever caught his eye, resulting in the short Last Hustle in Brooklyn, an effort that encouraged his desire to make films. Graduating from Morehouse, Lee went on to earn a Master of Fine Arts Degree in film from NYU, where his short, Joe's Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads, was showcased at Lincoln Center and scored the Student Award of the Academy of Motion Pictures.

In 1986, Lee debuted with the independently produced She's Gotta Have It, which earned him the Prix de Jeunesse Award at the Cannes Film Festival and led to his second feature, School Daze. His finely crafted and arresting Do the Right Thing garnered Lee an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay--marking him not simply as a filmmaker of seemingly endless talents, but as one of the freshest voices in filmmaking. Receiving many accolades for films such as Jungle Fever, Mo' Better Blues, Clockers and Crooklyn, Lee's body of work is both diverse and impressive, and his progression is marked by an ever-increasing maturity and brilliance. Films such as He Got Game and Get On the Bus, reveal Lee's innate awareness of the human condition while Malcolm X and Summer of Sam reveal his sheer genius and his love for the art of filmmaking.

As the founder of 40 Acres and Mule Filmworks, Lee's work can be raw and disturbing and yet delicate and sensitive at the same time. His natural ability to challenge and, at the same time entertain audiences sets him apart from the pack, while his masterful skill as a storyteller is what enthralls us all. Cinequest is honored to welcome Mr. Spike Lee as our guest, as we present three exciting events with him and acknowledge his significant influence with Cinequest's Maverick Spirit Award.

Spike Lee Events: Screening of Spike Lee's brilliant Academy Award-winner, 4 Little Girls. The gripping re-telling of the 1963 bombing of a Birmingham church, the four African-American girls who lost their lives, and a nation revolted, angered and galvanized to push the fight for equality and justice. Screening of Spike Lee's biting satire, Bamboozled. A biting satire of the television industry and its depiction of black actors. Starring Damon Wayans, Savion Glover, Jada Pinkett, Tommy Davidson, and Michael Rapaport.