Spike Lee returned to Cannes 27 years after he blasted onto the screen with Do the Right Thing and with his new film, BlacKkKlansman, won the Grand Prix Prize Jury. After accepting the prize “on behalf of the People’s Republic of Brooklyn, New York,” Lee said that, “Cannes was the perfect launchpad for this film. I hope the film can globally get us out of our mental slumber, and start to get back to truth, goodness, love and not hate.” Starring John David Washington, who first appeared in a Spike Lee Joint when he was nine years old (in Malcolm X), the film tells the true story of Ron Stallworth, a black undercover officer who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan. Much of the press conference of the movie was about the film’s ending, which has footage of the Charlottesville right-wing rally and the murder of Heather Heyer, and Lee’s focus on the film as a global story, not just an American one.
THE FINALE “When I saw what happened, I knew it had to be the coda for the film. I was given Susan Bro’s phone number. She’s the mother of Heather Heyer, the woman who was killed. I was not going to put that murder scene in the film without her permission. It’s going in the motherfucking film because there was a murder. We have a president motherfucker, I won’t say his name, who had the chance to say ‘we support love’ and that motherfucker could have said we are better than that. We look to our leaders to give us direction and to make moral decisions.”
THE MESSAGE “I thought this story sounds like a David Chappelle sketch. Is it true? Our job was to take this story that takes place in the early 1970s, to connect this period piece to the present day. What is happening now didn’t pop out of thin air. We had to end the film with the present day. There was no way I could not make that scene the end of the film once I got Mrs Bo’s blessing. It’s like a mini Civil War battle without guns. Heather should be alive now. When people give the thumbs up to hate groups, you let them come out of the wordwork.”
TARANTINO AND THE ‘N’ WORD “Ancient history, not important. Who cares what Quentin and I had? Words can be hateful and I don’t think I was elaborating how the Klan talks about black people. Plus, the KKK hate the Jews, they’re number two on the list. The reason we had them speak like that is because that’s how they speak. Those words are awful. I wanted the hate to be verbalized.”
THE FUTURE “I am hopeful, but not blind or deaf and aware of what is happening. This right-wing stuff is a global problem. All I can hope is to shake people from their slumber. The purpose is to spark a discussion. We know the difference between right and wrong. If you see it and you stay mum, you are helping.”.
Watch here the trailer for Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman: