Spike Lee denounces Trump at Cannes Film Festival

Brenda Watkins
May 17, 2018

In the movie, about a black man (John David Washington) who infiltrates the Ku Klux Klan, Lee inserted a moving documentary montage at the end of the film about the conflict in Charlottesville, reports Vulture.

He said Trump - whom he refused to call by name - had "a chance to say we are about love and not hate", and sharply criticised him for not denouncing the KKK.

This seems as though it could be a return to form for Lee, as the award-winning director's most notable works have been cited as culturally impactful and relevant to the struggles that plague the black community in the United States.

It just premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, where the audience gave it a six-minute standing ovation. Initially making contact by phone, Stallworth sends white Jewish partner Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver) in his place to a succession of meetings with klansmen Walter (Ryan Egghold), Felix (Jasper Paakkonen) and Ivanhoe (Paul Walter Hauser), with Ron rising in the KKK's ranks until he's a trusted confidante of grand wizard David Duke (Topher Grace).

"BlacKkKlansman", which follows the fact-based story of an African American police officer who infiltrated the Klan in the 1970s, ends with a montage of footage from the Charlottesville riots and a dedication to Heyer. The film concludes with the image of an upside-down black-and-white American flag.

The film ends with footage from the protests in Charlottesville, where a woman was killed after a man plowed his vehicle into a crowd of counter-protesters during the "Unite the Right" rally.

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Having already wrapped the film, Lee added the Charlottesville coda after the unrest in the American summer of previous year. "I know my heart, I don't care what the critics say or anybody else, but we are on the right side of history with this film", he said.

Before inserting footage of the auto that ploughed through crowds in Virginia, killing counter-protester Heather Heyer, Lee said he telephoned Heyer's mother. "I was not gonna put that murder scene in the film without her blessing", Lee explained.

Mr Lee called Charlottesville an "ugly, ugly, ugly blemish on America", but he also repeatedly stressed to the worldwide Cannes media that the racism depicted in BlacKkKlansman is not unique to the United States.

"This right-wing (expletive) is not just America". It's all over the world.

"So this film, to me, is a wake-up call because stuff is happening, and it's topsy-turvy and the fake has been trumpeted as the truth". Since then, Lee's gone on to foster discussions about race and police brutality in Do The Right Thing, HBCUs in School Daze, gun violence in ChiRaq, and he even documented some of America's worst moments in 4 Little Girls and When the Levees Broke.

He hopes BlacKkKlansman "shakes people from their slumber". We can't be silent.

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