Spike Lee’s America

spike lee(Photo credit: Polity Press)

(Image shows the film director Spike Lee facing the camera with three other men sat behind him)

Spike Lee has directed, written, produced, and acted in dozens of films that present a proudly opinionated and rich portrait of American society.

Lee is the only African-American filmmaker to establish and sustain a major presence in American film over a period of decades.

He has paid acute attention to the experiences of racial and ethnic minorities. But white men and women also play important roles in his movies, and his interest in class, race, and urban life has led him to produce films as diverse as the audiences who view them.

His output comprises almost fifty theatrical features, short films, and TV movies and episodes as director, almost as many as producer, and more than a dozen each as screenwriter and actor.

His music videos have been commissioned by everyone from Michael Jackson and Public Enemy to Tracy Chapman and Chaka Chan, and he has directed commercials for Nike Air Jordans and American Express.

He has won prizes, honours, and nominations at the Cannes, Berlin, and Venice film festivals, among others.

His defining trait is a willingness to raise hard questions about contemporary America without pretending to have easy answers; his pictures are designed to challenge and provoke us, not ease our minds or pacify our emotions.

The opening words of his 1989 masterpiece Do the Right Thing present his core message in two emphatic syllables: “Wake up!”

Spike Lee’s America written by David Steritt is a vibrant and provocative book examining not only the work of a great filmmaker, but also American society and politics.

You can find further details of Spike Lee’s America on the main catalogue, available in ‘Catalogues’ on the Library’s website.