Asked the difference between his characters and Hollywood's, director Spike Lee answered, "Mine are real." Lee has made it his cinematic mission to accurately portray being black in America. In one of his first films, Do the Right Thing, he sketched a rich portrait of racial tension in a Brooklyn neighborhood. And he recently dramatized the overlooked sacrifices of black soldiers during World War II in Miracle at St. Anna, which was a big "F U" to Clint Eastwood's white-centric Letters From Iwo Jima.
You'll have two chances to hear from Spike Lee at this weekend's American Black Film Festival. Tomorrow at 9 a.m., he'll host an art-of-filmmaking master class at the Ritz-Carlton South Beach. It'll cost you $200 to learn from the auteur's 25 years in the biz. But hey, that's a bargain when you consider it breaks down to only $8 for each year of experience.
Beyond his filmmaking skills, though, Lee is revered for not putting up with any bullshit. He has repeatedly refused to do any interviews with Fox News, although he once ran into Bill O'Reilly in a bathroom. As the story goes, Lee chose a nearby urinal and quipped, "Did you find any weapons of mass destruction in here?"
That's why more than just aspiring filmmakers will be interested in
hearing what Lee has to say. So tomorrow at 5 p.m., CNN's Soledad
O'Brien will interview him about his current project, the film If God Is
Willing and da Creek Don't Rise. It follows up on his Katrina documentary, When the Levees
Broke, checking in with displaced New Orleans victims and exploring the hurricane's lasting effects on nearby Gulfport, Mississippi.
It was slated to be released at the end of August, to coincide with the
five-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. But according to the website of his
production company, 40 Acres and a Mule, Lee found new
evidence of America's ineffective disaster response efforts in Haiti's earthquake and the Gulf oil spill, and he might be broadening the scope of the film.
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Tickets to the O'Brien/Lee symposium cost $35. It will be held at the
Ritz-Carlton South Bach, located at 1 Lincoln Rd. in Miami Beach.