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.”