On Monday night, Spike Lee introduced his new film BlacKkKlansman at the Cannes Film Festival with a speech excoriating President Donald Trump.
The film tells the true story of Ronald Stallworth (John David Washington), a black Colorado police detective who managed to infiltrate the Klu Klux Klan in the 1970s. (Adam Driver stars as his racist partner).
- The film also traces the line of racism in American history, from D.W. Griffith’s Birth of Nation to the KKK, to current events, like the neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville.
- Introducing the film at Cannes, he issued an expletive ridden tirade against Trump. He said, in part: “And we have a guy in the White House — I’m not gonna say his f—ing name — who defined that moment not just for Americans but the world, and that mother—er was given the chance to say we are about love, not hate. And that mother—er did not denounce the mother—-ing Klan, the alt-right, and those Nazis mother—ers. It was a defining moment, and he could have said to the world, not just the United States, that we were better than that.”
- On Tuesday, he sat down with Vanity Fair to discuss the project, which he produced with Get Out director Jordan Peele.
- Lee said he felt the story needed to get told: “We had to make people understand, especially young audiences, that sh– doesn’t pop up out of nowhere. All this stuff that we’re seeing now, it’s been there. And with this Agent Orange in the White House, he’s allowed these people to come out of the woodwork, out of the darkness, into the light. They say, ‘F— it. We don’t care. We’re out here.’”
- Lee continued: “For the president of the United States, that’s gonna be at his grave site. A pivotal moment where you have to condemn racism, these Nazis, these K.K.K.—he did not do that. He says they’re fine people.”
- Lee added that the film was created to address a number of historical wrongs: “And it’s so meaningful for me when he talked about Tarzan. ’Cause Tarzan made black people hate being black, and hate just being connected to Africa. And it’s not just African-Americans. F— John Ford. F— John Wayne. F— ’em. What they did to Native Americans—and they tried to fix it with The Searchers—F— it. It was too late. The United States of America is based upon genocide of the Native people and black folks being stolen and brought from America to here. That’s the foundation of this country: genocide and slavery. Racism is interwoven in the very fabric of Betsy Ross’s mother—ing red, white, and blue flag. It’s the truth; that’s the foundation. Everything out from that is gonna be wrong. Film and television is part of that. We’re repudiating that Gone with the Wind s–t, Birth of a Nation.
- The film hits theaters August 10th.