Tipped as an Oscar contender
Cop’s radical Idea to go clandestine pays off
IT’S A story that would be impossible, except it is true.
An African-American police officer manages to infiltrate and expose a branch of the Ku Klux Klan. BlacKkKlansman,
director Spike Lee’s latest film brings the story of Ron Stallworth to life with a few embellishments.
Set in the early 1970s, the crime drama follows Ron Stallworth (John David Washington), the first African-American detective to serve in the Colorado Springs Police Department.
Determined to make a name for himself, Stallworth sets out on a mission: infiltrate and expose the KKK.
Posing as a racist extremist, Stallworth contacts the group and finds himself invited into its inner circle.
He even cultivates a relationship with the Klan’s Grand Wizard, David Duke (Topher Grace). With the undercover investigation growing ever more complex, Stallworth’s colleague Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver) poses as Ron in face-to-face meetings with members of
the hate group, gaining insider’s knowledge of a deadly plot.
Stallworth and Zimmerman team up to take down the organisation, which aims to sanitise its violent rhetoric to appeal to the mainstream.
Get Out director Jordan Peele brought Stallworth’s memoir to Lee’s attention, and he and Get Out producer Jason Blum serve as co-producers on the film, which has Oscar buzz.
Lee cast John David Washington, son of Oscar winner Denzel Washington, in the lead role without an audition. As a child, Washington had a small role in Lee’s Malcolm X, but didn’t make his adult acting debut until landing a role in TV series Ballers.
“I told him I knew him before he was born. We’re family,” Lee tells the San Francisco Chronicle.
Washington told CNN his gridiron career helped to prepare him for his second career on the screen.
“The concept of team play truly gives you a chance to win or succeed in truth, telling like it did on the field,” he said. “Scheduling, your concentration, your discipline, all of that, to me, is a direct result of football and how I apply it to my work now.”
BlacKkKlansman ends with real-life footage of last year’s Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. US President Donald Trump was criticised for his remarks on the event, which some interpreted as sympathetic to white supremacists.
Lee says his film is not directly aimed at the controversial leader, although he hopes he takes notice.
“I don’t approach my films by saying who’s the target. I use the word ‘story’ instead of ‘target’. There has to be a story,” Lee tells the San Francisco Chronicle.
“Just the premise of this film is high concept. A black man infiltrates the Ku Klux Klan. That’s all you’ve got to say.”
SEE IT: Adam Driver and John David Washington in a scene from the movie. Supplied by Universal Pictures.