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!