In Cannes, Spike Lee lam­basts Trump over white su­prem­a­cists

South Florida Times - - NATION - By JAKE COYLE

CANNES, France (AP) — In a pas­sion­ate, ex­ple­tive-rid­den mono­logue at the Cannes Film Fes­ti­val, di­rec­tor Spike Lee lam­basted Don­ald Trump for the U.S. pres­i­dent’s re­sponse to last year’s vi­o­lent white su­prem­a­cist protest in Char­lottesville, Vir­ginia.

Lee spoke to re­porters Tues­day af­ter his “BlacKkKlans­man” pre­miered Mon­day night at Cannes to a rous­ing stand­ing ova­tion.

The 1979-set film, loosely based on a true story, is about black po­lice de­tec­tive Ron Stall­worth (played by John David Wash­ing­ton, Den­zel’s son) and a Jewish de­tec­tive ( Adam Driver) who to­gether in­fil­trated a Ku Klux Klan cell in Colorado. To­pher Grace plays for­mer KKK leader David Duke.

The 61-year-old film­maker said that fol­low­ing the vi­o­lence in Char­lottesville, the U.S. pres­i­dent had the op­por­tu­nity to de­nounce the Ku Klux Klan and the alt-right. But Trump in­stead chose to say there was “blame on both sides” in the un­rest be­tween the neo-Nazi groups and counter-pro­test­ers. He said Trump — whom he re­fused to call by name — had “a chance to say we are about love and not hate,” and sharply crit­i­cized him for not de­nounc­ing the KKK.

“It was a defin­ing mo­ment and he could have said to the United States and the world that we’re bet­ter than that,” said Lee.

“BlacKkKlans­man,” pro­duced by Jor­dan Peele (di­rec­tor of “Get Out”), con­cludes by con­nect­ing the pe­riod tale with to­day. It ends with ac­tual footage from Char­lottesville, as well as Trump’s tele­vised re­sponse. The fi­nal im­age is an up­side-down Amer­i­can flag that fades to black and white.

Fo­cus Fea­tures will re­lease the film in Au­gust, on the year an­niver­sary of Char­lottesville.

Hav­ing al­ready wrapped the film, Lee added the Char­lottesville coda af­ter the un­rest last sum­mer.

“Right away, I knew that this had to be the coda for the film, but I had to do some­thing first,” said Lee. Be­fore in­sert­ing footage of the car that plowed through crowds in Vir­ginia, killing counter-pro­tester Heather Heyer, Lee said he tele­phoned Heyer’s mother.

“I was not go­ing to put that mur­der scene in the film with­out her bless­ing,” said Lee.

Lee called Char­lottesville an “ugly, ugly, ugly blem­ish on Amer­ica,” but he also re­peat­edly stressed to the in­ter­na­tional Cannes me­dia that the racism de­picted in “BlacKkKlans­man” isn’t unique to the United States.

“This right -wing (ex­ple­tive) is not just Amer­ica. It’s all over the world. And we have to wake up,” said Lee. “We can’t be silent. It’s not black, white, or brown. It’s every­body. We all live on this planet, and this guy in the White House has the nu­clear code. I go to bed think­ing about it.”

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