November 11, 2015

Let Spike Lee Tell You What Movies Mean to Him

Movies mean a lot of things to a lot of people. They can be a means of entertainment or escape. They can be a vehicle for creativity and expression. They can also be a way of changing your life, and even the world.

To director and recent Honorary Oscar winner Spike Lee, movies mean all of these things and more. He sat down with Academy Originals to talk about the impact films have had on his life as both a viewer and as an artist.

Surely, most of us got into this business (or are still trying to) because we love film, and we love what it does to us mentally, psychologically, and emotionally. They've ignited our creativity in ways nothing else does, but films also have the power to ignite social change, something Spike Lee knows firsthand.

"The medium of film and television is very powerful. Once you respect it and not play with it, you could definitely influence how people think -- and it could be good and bad."

His films, including Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X, and She's Gotta Have It, influenced audiences and filmmakers alike in a myriad of ways, including with their portrayals of African Americans on screen, opening up a dialog about life in the inner-city, as well as addressing important issues surrounding race and ethnicity in America. They've had such a huge societal impact, in fact, that many news agencies feared that Do the Right Thing would incite riots.

So, whether you're making films to entertain, express, or inspire change, I think we can all learn from the lesson that greatly impacted Lee both professionally and personally -- when Kurosawa told a journalist that there is a "universe of filmmaking" left to learn from. The lessons that cinema has to offer you are only as expansive as your imagination, passion, and curiosity allow them to be.

What do movies mean to you? Let us know in the comments below!     

Your Comment

16 Comments

Remember when he put George Zimmerman's home address on Twitter for a little street justice? That was awesome.

It was even cooler that he got the address wrong and endangered innocent people. LOLZ Spike Lee, you kidder you.

November 11, 2015 at 9:55PM

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Love Spike...... Im going to watch new jack city right now.... Timeless film!

November 11, 2015 at 10:24PM

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Walter Wallace
Spokesperson/Entrepreneur
1242

lulz

November 12, 2015 at 12:10AM, Edited November 12, 12:10AM

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Spike didn't direct New Jack City. That honor belongs to Mario Van Peebles.
Wrong Black guy, buddy.

November 12, 2015 at 3:01AM

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'

November 13, 2015 at 12:05AM, Edited November 13, 12:15AM

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Gene Nemetz
live streaming
1674

Lee is such a doucher

November 12, 2015 at 3:39PM

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It's funny how whites in America always seem to think that films showing African Americans, having African American themes, and showing African American forms of expression will lead to riots.

I never knew "Do The Right Thing" was thought of in that way.

It's just sad that for all of the progress this country has claimed to have gotten folks in 2015 still thought that there would be fighting and riots at the release of "Straight Outta Compton."

As for me, movies mean just that, a way to express my opinions, viewpoints, and perspectives.

November 12, 2015 at 4:08PM, Edited November 12, 4:11PM

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Justin Gladden
Producer
372

Funny, no white people I know ever mentioned anything about fearing riots when Straight Out Of Compton came out.

November 13, 2015 at 12:13AM

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Gene Nemetz
live streaming
1674

November 13, 2015 at 5:40PM, Edited November 13, 5:40PM

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Justin Gladden
Producer
372

But why did you say that about white people then???

November 17, 2015 at 3:53AM

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Gene Nemetz
live streaming
1674

Say what?

November 17, 2015 at 11:29AM

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Justin Gladden
Producer
372

All but Justin seemed to miss the question. I agree Justin!

"What do movies mean to you? Let us know in the comments below!"

Movies are a way to express an opinion in an artistic way. A way to tell a stories from different perspectives. That's what I love about movies. Two films could be made with the same script and be completely different stories.

November 12, 2015 at 4:27PM

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And remember that classic Spike Lee moment when he accused the Cannes Film Festival judges of not nominating any of his films, ever, because they are all white judges, and he's black, then one of their most famous judges, who is black, came out and said he was deeply offended by him saying that. And then how another Cannes judge came out and said, "We do not nominate Spike Lee's movies because he is black. We do not nominate Spike Lee movies because they are not good." Yeah, classic.

November 13, 2015 at 12:11AM

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Gene Nemetz
live streaming
1674

Never heard about that. Is there a link?

I only ask because I can't find it. Unless you're being sarcastic and I TOTALLY missed it . . . sorry.

All my results show him winning best director in Cannes for "She's Gotta Have It."

November 13, 2015 at 7:02PM, Edited November 13, 7:09PM

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Justin Gladden
Producer
372

Best director, Spike Lee? At which film festival?

Look back to Spike Lee's movie Do The Right Thing, and how Cannes didnt nominate it. You will find stories about him playing the race card over it. It really happened. It was a fairly big story. You may have been very young then.

November 17, 2015 at 4:02AM, Edited November 17, 4:04AM

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Gene Nemetz
live streaming
1674

Not young. It just wasn't a very big deal. Even know. Spikes playing the race card is as normal as gays playing the LGBT card.

Correction, got my awards crossed. He won an Award of the Youth at Cannes for She's Gotta have it.

November 17, 2015 at 11:22AM, Edited November 17, 11:27AM

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Justin Gladden
Producer
372