When one thinks of African-American filmmakers, Spike Lee is usually the guy that comes to mind. Not only because he happens to be black, but because he so often tackles issues involving the African-American community, both in the media and his films.

Lee was born in Atlanta, Georgia, but moved to New York as a child where he was raised. Many of his films are set in NYC, and he is often recognized as one of the few New York filmmakers along with Martin Scorsese and Woody Allen.

After attending Morehouse College and earning a B.A. in Mass Communications, he moved on to NYU where he worked towards an MFA in Film & Television.

In 1986 Lee released his first feature film, She’s Gotta Have It. Despite being shot in 15 days on a budget of $175,000, the film opened to both critical and financial success.

It wasn’t until 1989, though, that Spike Lee burst onto the scene with the landmark film, Do the Right Thing. The film is generally considered to be Lee’s masterpiece. It tackles many of the racial issues that have come to define his career, and is one of the best African-American films of all time. Do the Right Thing was nominated for two Academy Awards. One for Danny Aiello’s performance, and the other for Lee’s screenplay.  Critic Roger Ebert ranked it as the best movie of 1989, and the fourth best of the 80’s. Without this film, it is doubtful that Lee would have had the career he has had.

Spike Lee has had an extremely prolific career, with 53 directing credits listed on IMDb. Just last year he released his remake of the Korean film Oldboy and the TV documentary Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth. 

His next film, Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, is set for release sometime this year. Lee has stated that the film will be about “Human beings who are addicted to blood” and that it will be “Funny, sexy and bloody.”  It seems like  a strange and different material for the director, but in a way this represents the director getting back to his roots. The film was shot in 16 days on a shoestring budget, not unlike some of his early directorial efforts.

 

Have you seen any Spike Lee films? What do you think? Let me know in the comment section below.