Spike Lee Says Black People Are Still 'Being Hunted Down Like Animals'

The acclaimed 'Do the Right Thing' director is making history this week as the first Black person to serve as jury president at the Cannes Film Festival.

spike lee

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spike lee

With this year’s Cannes Film Festival, prolific director Spike Lee is making history as the first Black person to serve as jury president. And during a festival press conference on Tuesday, Lee spoke on the importance of that role while also reflecting on the sustaining legacy of his 1989 classic Do the Right Thing.

Per Variety, Lee was asked by Chaz Ebert—the wife of the late legend of film criticism Roger Ebert—about the film. Famously, Roger Ebert had championed the film, particularly after it was denied the top jury award at that year’s festival. After saying that he still holds a “very special place” in his heart for the critic, who died in 2013, Lee connected the film’s story to the continued acts of police brutality in present-day U.S.

“A couple weeks ago was the 32nd anniversary of the film,” Lee said, per Ramin Setoodeh. “I wrote it in 1988. When you see brother Eric Garner, when you see king George Floyd murdered, lynched. I think of Radio Raheem. And you think and hope that 30 motherfucking years later, Black people would stop being hunted down like animals. So, I’m glad to be here, though.”

Elsewhere during Tuesday’s presser, Lee deemed Cannes the “greatest film festival” in the world and also shared a refreshing take on the so-called battle between the cinema industry and streamers. Lee, whose own Da 5 Bloods was released by Netflix in June of last year, likened the current tensions to those between cinema and television years ago.

“Cinema and screening platforms can coexist,” he said.

"Cinema and streaming platforms can coexist. At one time, there was thinking that TV was going to kill cinema, so this stuff is not new. It's all a cycle," says Spike Lee at the #CannesFilmFestival https://t.co/6WmiFCL1IR pic.twitter.com/BZCQOprL7r

— Variety (@Variety) July 6, 2021

In January, Lee was honored by the New York Film Critics Circle for the mid-pandemic short “New York, New York.” In his acceptance speech, the two-time Peabody Award recipient addressed the fatal Capitol riot that occurred weeks before the virtual ceremony.

“This president Agent Orange will go down in history with the likes of Hitler,” Lee said at the time.

Next up, Lee will helm a musical about Viagra based on an Esquire article by David Kushner.

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