Monday, March 29, 2010

Tucson: Filmmaker Spike Lee to speak at Centennial Hall Wednesday

Filmmaker Spike Lee to lecture at UA Wednesday

Creator of 'Do the Right Thing,' 'When the Levees Broke' will speak at Centennial Hall

Posted Mar 29

Maggie Golston


An Evening with Spike Lee, Wed. March 31, 7 p.m. at Centennial Hall, 1020 East University. Call 621-3364 for tickets, student prices $5, $10, $15 general public $10, $20, $30

The UA's University Activities Board will host a lecture by filmmaker, activist and New York Yankees fan Spike Lee this Wednesday at Centennial Hall.

In past lectures at previous universities, Lee has focused on his experiences as an African-American filmmaker in America. Speaking extemporaneously, Lee is candid and incisive about the film industry and the roles African-American filmmakers have and have not been permitted.

Lee is also a strong social activist in his lectures, as one familiar with his films would expect. in recent years, he has addressed the conundrum of the financial success of such entertainers as Tyler Perry, and how a more "acceptable" — read less disruptive of dominant ideologies about race — version of the African-American entertainer undermines the real work of cultural activism.

Lee's production company, 40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks, has produced over 35 films since 1983. The name of the company refers to the promise made by the government to freed slaves in 1865. The company created project 40, a nonprofit arm that educates underserved kids in New York, as well as the 40 Acres Institute, a community filmmaking program in Brooklyn.

Beginning with smaller films like "She's Gotta Have It," a black and white character-driven comedy/drama that drew immediate comparisons to Woody Allen, Lee went on to direct 1989's "Do the Right Thing," a film that daringly and honestly looked at race issues in Brooklyn's Bed-Stuy neighborhood, won the Palme D'Or at the Cannes film festival, and is considered by many to be one of the best films of the last generation.

Lee's body of work since has been formidable. Highlights include 1991's "Jungle Fever," the epic 1992 biopic "Malcolm X," the underrated autobiographical period piece "Crooklyn" (1994), and, more recently, the crime caper pic "Inside Man" (2006).

Perhaps the most important work of all in Lee's oeuvre will prove in time to be his epic chronicle of the events in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, "When the Levees Broke." Aired on HBO, the six-hour documentary is the most comprehensive and unflinching look at the event yet produced, in any medium.

Chris Hargraves, senior coordinator and adviser, and Munerra Muhammad, a pre-pharmacy and religious studies senior, have coordinated Lee's visit for the UAB. They also judged a "Why I want to meet Spike Lee" letter-writing contest for students. Six winners, whose fields of study range from education and natural resources to fine art and media arts, will meet with Lee before the event.


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