Tag Archives: Spike lee

Clint, Spike Trade Barbs Over WWII Films

It’s officially a war of words … over war.

Clint Eastwood and Spike Lee, two of Hollywood’s most revered filmmakers, have launched into an insult-laden, tit-for-tat debate on whether the former should have included black actors in his recent World War II films. After Eastwood told Lee to “shut his face” this week, the “Malcolm X” director followed up on Friday by calling him an “angry old man.”

Speaking bluntly to The Guardian newspaper, Eastwood rejected Lee’s previous complaints about the racial make-up of “Flags of Our Fathers” and “Letters From Iwo Jima,” both from 2006, explaining that the black troops that did take part in the 1945 battle were assigned to munitions companies and had no part in the flag-raising moment that is the focus of “Flags.”

“The story is ‘Flags of Our Fathers,’ the famous flag-raising picture, and they didn’t do that. If I go ahead and put an African-American actor in there, people’d go: ‘This guy’s lost his mind.’ I mean, it’s not accurate.” Referring to Lee, he added: “A guy like him should shut his face.”

Lee quickly responded, telling ABC News on Friday that he is surprised by Eastwood’s comments.

“First of all, the man is not my father and we’re not on a plantation either,” he said. “He’s a great director. He makes his films, I make my films. The thing about it though, I didn’t personally attack him. And a comment like ‘a guy like that should shut his face’ — come on Clint, come on. He sounds like an angry old man right there.”

The 51-year-old director has offered a way to settle the matter:

“If he wishes, I could assemble African-American men who fought at Iwo Jima and I’d like him to tell these guys that what they did was insignificant and they did not exist,” he said. “I’m not making this up. I know history. I’m a student of history. And I know the history of Hollywood and its omission of the one million African-American men and women who contributed to World War II.

Eastwood has not mentioned why there were no black actors used in “Letters,” which does not focus on the flag-raising, but instead on the view of the battle from the Japanese side. American soldiers appear in the film, but only as invaders intent on capturing the island.

It all started at last month’s Cannes Film Festival, when Lee aired his gripes about both movies.

“He did two films about Iwo Jima back to back and there was not one black soldier in both of those films,” Lee said. “Many veterans, African-Americans, who survived that war are upset at Clint Eastwood. In his vision of Iwo Jima, Negro soldiers did not exist. Simple as that. I have a different version.”

Almost 900 of the 30,000 marines that stormed the Japanese island were African-American. Eastwood added that he would not compromise the facts with future projects.

“I’m not in that game. I’m playing it the way I read it historically, and that’s the way it is,” he said.

“When I do a picture and it’s 90% black, like ‘Bird,’ I use 90% black people,” said Eastwood, referring to his 1998 film about jazz musician Charlie “Bird” Parker.

Eastwood brought up the last time Lee complained about his filmmaking choices.

“He was complaining when I did Bird (the 1988 biopic of Charlie Parker). Why would a white guy be doing that? I was the only guy who made it, that’s why. He could have gone ahead and made it. Instead he was making something else.”

Lee’s next film is “Miracle at St. Anna,” about the all-black 92nd Buffalo Division that fought in Tuscany, Italy during World War II. Eastwood’s next project, meanwhile, is about Nelson Mandela and his fight to heal the wounds of apartheid in South Africa. Eastwood said he’ll stay true the story when it’s time to cast that film, titled “The Human Factor.”

“I’m not going to make Nelson Mandela a white guy,” he quipped.

Source: AOL

Spike Lee gets critical in Cannes

CANNES — Spike Lee is in Cannes to promote his Italy-set war film “Miracle at St. Anna,” but he couldn’t resist taking a few swipes at some fellow directors, including Joel and Ethan Coen and Clint Eastwood.

Speaking about death in his World War II period drama, Lee said that, unlike the Coens, he was respectful in the way he portrayed death.

“I always treat life and death with respect, but most people don’t,” Lee said at a press briefing. “Look, I love the Coen brothers; we all studied at NYU. But they treat life like a joke. Ha ha ha. A joke. It’s like, ‘Look how they killed that guy! Look how blood squirts out the side of his head!’ I see things different than that.”

Speaking about the casting for his tale of four black American soldiers in Tuscany during World War II, Lee said that black actors appear in war films too infrequently.

“Clint Eastwood made two films about Iwo Jima that ran for more than four hours total and there was not one Negro actor on the screen,” Lee told reporters. “If you reporters had any balls you’d ask him why. There’s no way I know why he did that — that was his vision, not mine. But I know it was pointed out to him and that he could have changed it. It’s not like he didn’t know.”

Lee said that his film is in the final stages of post-production and will be complete by the end of July, with an Oct. 10 release date likely — exactly one year after shooting started. The film’s score and about 10 weeks of mixing remain before completion. He said the film is likely to premiere at a festival: either Venice or Toronto.

Lee also told the Hollywood Reporter he is starting work on an as-yet-unnamed documentary about basketball great Michael Jordan, set for release in early 2009. Lee and Jordan starred in a series of award-winning ad spots for sporting goods company Nike in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Source: Hollywood Reporter

Spike Lee, Nokia team for cell phone pic

Filmmaker Spike Lee has linked up with Nokia to direct a movie made with cell phone footage from everyday people in what he calls the democratization of film.

The film by Nokia Productions will consist of three acts. An “assignment” for each act will be announced online and people will then have four weeks to produce their submission.

“You are seeing first hand the democratization of film,” Lee said in a statement on Thursday. “Aspiring filmmakers no longer have to go to film school to make great work. With a simple mobile phone, almost anyone can now become a filmmaker.”

Lee was nominated for an Academy Award for best original screenplay for “Do the Right Thing” in 1990 and for best documentary for “4 Little Girls” in 1998.

The film’s theme will evolve around the way music tells the story of humanity, and people can submit text, music, video or images at certain times between now and August 21 to here.

Nokia will choose 25 submissions, then people can vote online for their favorite for a top 10 from which Spike Lee will then choose the winning submission from each act.

Lee will direct the film through the Web site.

The final film with the three winning submissions and other contributed content will premiere later this year in Los Angeles.

Source: Hollywood Reporter

Spike Lee chronicles Hurricane Katrina in doc ‘When The Levees Broke’

TORONTO (CP) _ The anti-George W. Bush rhetoric that has been a near-constant refrain at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival reached a crescendo Friday when Spike Lee sat down to discuss his epic documentary on hurricane Katrina.

"There’s a swing happening … A lot of people are finally waking up that this is the worst president in the history of the United States of America," Lee told a news conference to promote "When The Levees Broke: A Requiem In Four Acts."

"He’s taking us to hell in a handbag. …. I just hope people finally wake up and don’t go for ‘okey-dokey’ again. Get hoodwinked. Led astray. Run amok. Here’s a new one _ hornswoggled," added the acclaimed director, riffing on a famous Malcolm X speech.

"When the Levees Broke," which recently won the documentary prize at the Venice Film Festival, is an exhaustive account of the devastation that struck New Orleans late last summer, and the sluggish reaction by Bush and his administration, as well as other top officials.

Told through newsreel footage and interviews with a wide range of subjects _ including residents affected by the storm, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, Rev. Al Sharpton, entertainer Harry Belafonte, CNN reporter Soledad O’Brien and rapper Kanye West _ the HBO documentary clocks in at a whopping four hours. Lee said it would be a "criminal act" to cram it in to two hours, adding he’s not done with the topic just yet.

"We wanted this to be the definitive living document on when the levees broke. Even saying that… it’s still an incomplete piece, because New Orleans is incomplete, the future of New Orleans is up in the air. So hopefully we will get a chance to go back and stay with this."

The director is also developing a TV show based on the current struggles of New Orleans residents.

"Post-Katrina, the obituary column in the Times-Picayune (newspaper) is 30 per cent more," Lee said.

"Suicides are up … People are just buggin’. And there are no facilities to deal with the mental-health issue down there. This stuff is going to have reverberations for many years to come. When you have children who’ve seen their parents drown in front of them or parents who have seen their children drown in front of them, I mean how do you deal with that?"

"Levees" lands at the Toronto festival after a week of persistent Bush-bashing.

Actor Sean Penn called the U.S. president a "dumb Beelzebub" at one news conference while audiences saw the fictional assassination of Bush acted out in another festival entry, "Death of a President." "Bobby" director Emilio Estevez also lashed out at the administration.

Not surprisingly, Lee pulls no punches in "Where The Levees Broke," taking aim at officials and politicians who appeared to dawdle while scores of New Orleans residents were starving and stranded. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is shown shopping for designer shoes and attending a performance of "Spamalot" during Katrina’s aftermath. Bush himself is shown surveying the wreckage from the comfort of Air Force One.

In another devastating segment, CNN’s O’Brien hammers FEMA’s Michael Brown about why the media has better intelligence about the storm than he does. And then there is the now-infamous remark by former first lady Barbara Bush, who suggested poor people from Louisiana being housed in the Houston Astrodome were actually better off after the hurricane struck.

"Levees" ends on an ominous note, which Lee reiterated Friday. Said the director: "Don’t let anybody tell you differently. Today those levees and floodwalls are not safe. Compared to state-of-the-art levees in countries like the Netherlands, the New Orleans flood protection system looks like "tiddlywinks," he added.

"This is supposed to be the most powerful, richest, country in the world? … But they’re not concerned about (New Orleans), they’d rather go to Mars, go to the moon, go to Iraq, Iran … it’s not a priority," he said.

"You can’t say that Katrina was it. … The next 10 to 15 years, hurricanes are still going to come… It’s going to take somebody in charge to say this is a priority and make it a priority."

Canadian viewers can see "When The Levees Broke" Sept. 21 at 9 p.m. ET on The Movie Network and Sept. 24 at 3 p.m. PT on Movie Central (check local listings).