of Sam movie review by Shelby Jones.
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
Lee discusses guerilla
filmmaking versus traditional film school, Matty Rich and the Black
Film Renaissance of the early '90s.
Lee discusses Summer of Sam, and his body of work honored in BAM's "Summer
of Spike" film retrospective. by
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. Whats the truth
from your perspective?
Well, people have a lot of ideas but I dont agree with that. From
the very beginning we wanted to tell stories, stories that reflect the
African-American experience. So I dont think that I was ever deluded
into thinking that a film is gonna change the world. That was never the
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
Im not gonna say never, but as long as I have any thing to do with
it those films will not be seen.
Is there a particular reason?
Theyre not that good. (laughter)
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?
Yeah, I want to do a lot more documentaries, feature length documentaries.
"Four Little Girls" will not be the last. Im just trying
to find the right story. Once we find that then we will go ahead and do
So, of all of your films, which is your personal favorite?
I dont have any personal favorites. I think there are different
films that worked for me better than others, but I wouldnt use the
term "personal favorite".
Tell us a little bit about your upcoming project, "Love and Basketball"?
Its a film that Im executive producing. An African-American
woman, Gina Prince, wrote it. She wrote and is directing the script. Its
a film about women in basketball. The lead character is a young girl that
we follow from age ten to the WNBA.
"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 Berkowitzs
victims. How do you address their concerns?
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. Its about
that crazy summer. In no way, shape, or form do we exploit David Berkowitz
or the victims in this film. We really cant say more than that about
those charges by the parents of those victims.
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?
The reason for me doing this film is because I love the script. Its
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. Im a New York filmmaker
and this is one of the great ones.