July 99 Interview: Spike Lee on SOS

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REVIEWS

Summer of Sam movie review by Shelby Jones.

 

VIDEO INTERVIEW
You can view the digital interview to hear Spike Lee's thoughts on "Summer of Sam" and his relationships with Samuel L. Jackson and Quentin Tarantino. You will need a Real Player to view digital interview. Real Player can be downloaded free at real.com

 

INTERVIEWS
Spike Lee discusses guerilla filmmaking versus traditional film school, Matty Rich and the Black Film Renaissance of the early '90s.

 

 

 

 

Spike Lee discusses Summer of Sam, and his body of work honored in BAM's "Summer of Spike" film retrospective. by Nasser Metcalfe

 

NM
There is this retrospective going on at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) of your past work for the whole month of July. It has been speculated that you sought to change the world with some of your earlier work, but with your recent work, you have become comfortable with just being a great filmmaker who makes great films for people to enjoy. What’s the truth from your perspective?

SL
Well, people have a lot of ideas but I don’t agree with that. From the very beginning we wanted to tell stories, stories that reflect the African-American experience. So I don’t think that I was ever deluded into thinking that a film is gonna change the world. That was never the intention.

NM
There are a lot of young, upstart filmmakers, particularly young, upstart, black filmmakers, who really look up to you, admire your work and are influenced greatly by your   contributions, many of them are just starting out as you were. Will there ever be an outlet or opportunity for members of the public to see some of your really early work, like "Black College: the Talented Tenth", or "Sarah" or "The Answer"?

SL
No. (laughter)

NM
Never ever?

SL
I’m not gonna say never, but as long as I have any thing to do with it those films will not be seen.

NM
Is there a particular reason?

SL
They’re not that good. (laughter)

NM
Well, speaking of something that was good, "Four Little Girls" was very well received and considered a very powerful and moving piece of work. Do you think you will explore documentary filmmaking more?

SL
Yeah, I want to do a lot more documentaries, feature length documentaries. "Four Little Girls" will not be the last. I’m just trying to find the right story. Once we find that then we will go ahead and do it.

NM
So, of all of your films, which is your personal favorite?

SL
I don’t have any personal favorites. I think there are different films that worked for me better than others, but I wouldn’t use the term "personal favorite".

NM
Tell us a little bit about your upcoming project, "Love and Basketball"?

SL
It’s a film that I’m executive producing. An African-American woman, Gina Prince, wrote it. She wrote and is directing the script. It’s a film about women in basketball. The lead character is a young girl that we follow from age ten to the WNBA.

NM
"Summer of Sam" is your current directorial project. There has been some controversy because the subject matter deals with a group of young adults who live life in the Bronx, in  the ‘70s,during the time that the Son of Sam killings are occurring. There has been some negative feedback from the families of some of David Berkowitz’s victims. How do you address their concerns?

SL
You know, we understand the pain that they have felt for the last twenty plus years. No one can bring back their loved ones. But number one, this film is not just about David Berkowitz or the Son of Sam. It’s about that crazy summer. In no way, shape, or form do we exploit David Berkowitz or the victims in this film. We really can’t say more than that about those charges by the parents of those victims.

NM
Now "Summer of Sam" has gotten a lot of attention for being your first film with a predominantly white cast. I believe yourself, Roger Guenveur Smith, and those of us who were extras in that riot scene were the only African-Americans or people of color in the film. There have been questions about why you would choose to do that at this point in your career. What was the reason for that, or was there a reason?

SL
The reason for me doing this film is because I love the script. It’s a great story, simple as that. Michael Imperioli and Victor Colicchia handed me the script. At first I was going to executive produce it. Then I changed my mind and did a re-write of it. I’m a New York filmmaker and this is one of the great ones.

 

 

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