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Lee, Spike

Posted on Feb 28, 2016 in Filmmakers Database, L | 0 comments

Spike Lee (Miracle)

Spike Lee (Shelton Jackson Lee)

Director, producer and actor (Atlanta, Georgia, USA, 3.20.1957)

Shelton Jackson “Spike” Lee (born March 20, 1957) is an American film director, producer, writer, and actor. His production company, 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks, has produced over 35 films since 1983. Lee was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the son of Jacqueline Carroll (née Shelton), a teacher of arts and black literature, and William James Edward Lee III, a jazz musician and composer. Lee also had three younger siblings Joie, David, and Cinqué, who all worked in many different positions in Lee’s films. When he was a child, the family moved to Brooklyn, New York. During his childhood, his mother nicknamed him “Spike”. Lee enrolled in Morehouse College, a historically black college, took film courses at Clark Atlanta University and graduated with a BA in Mass Communication from Morehouse. He did graduate work at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where he earned a Master of Fine Arts in Film & Television.

Lee’s independent film, Joe’s Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads, was the first student film to be showcased in Lincoln Center’s New Directors/New Films Festival. In 1985, Lee began work on his first feature film, She’s Gotta Have It. With a budget of $175,000, he shot the film in two weeks. When the film was released in 1986, it grossed over $7,000,000 at the U.S. box office. Lee’s 1989 film Do the Right Thing was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay in 1989. He was to be nominated again as producer of the best documentary, 4 Little Girls (1997) but never won. In November  2015, he was given an Honorary Academy Award for his contributions to film-making. His features were selected in competition for Cannes Film Festival (Do the Right Thing, 1989; Jungle Fever, 1991), Venice Film Festival (Mo’ Better Blues, 1990; Clockers, 1995) and Berlin International Film Festival (Malcolm X, 1993; Get on the Bus, 1996; Bamboozled, 2000; 25th Hour, 2002). In 37 years of career, Lee directed and producer over 60 features.

Only one of them is part of Italian filmography, that is Miracle at St. Anna, an Italian/U.S. co-production involving On My Own Produzioni Cinematografiche, Buffalo Soldiers and Rai Cinema, inspired to the eponymous novel by James Mc Bride, filmed between October and December 2007 in the small town of Colognora di Pescaglia, in Sant’Anna di Stazzema, New York, Gioviano and Rome, and premiered at Toronto Film Festival on September, 7, 2008. Cost over 45 million dollars the film grossed worldwide only nine million dollars, resulting in a financial flop, but Italian and U.S. critics weren’t either particularly warm. The cast is relevant for the presence of many afrodescendant actors and technicians: among the actors, the film features Derek Luke, Michael Ealy, Laz Alonso, Omar Benson Miller, Kerry Washington, Omari Hardwick, Michael Kenneth Williams, Laila Petrone; Spike Lee is credited also as producer; James McBride as screenwriter and author of the novel, Terence Blanchard as music composer. In minor roles it is worth to mention Jonas Carpignano (key set production assistant, New York) and Fred Kuwornu (Michael Ealy’s stand-in). Kuwornu directed a documentary on the role of Buffalo Soldiers in the liberation of Italy from the German army, called Inside Buffalo (2010).


Italian Filmography:

Miracolo a Sant’Anna (Spike Lee, 2008, ff, act)


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Contributors: Leonardo De Franceschi

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