A day with Spike Lee and what else is happening at ON.DXB
At ON.DXB, the three-day film, game, video and music festival taking place from today until November 23 at Dubai Studio City, ground-breaking filmmaker Spike Lee will chart his 30-year journey from indie breakout Do the Right Thing to 2019 Oscar glory for BlacKkKlansman during An Audience with Spike Lee. Here's five things you may not know about Lee, ahead of his appearance at the event...
1. How he started: Spike, real name Shelton Jackson Lee, was born 20 March 1957 and first came to filmmaking prominence in 1983 with Joe's Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads - his master's thesis project at New York University' Tisch School of Arts. The short film focused on the importance of the barbershop in black communities. Lee's fellow NYU classmates, Ang Lee and Ernest R Dickerson - both acclaimed filmmakers, worked on the project. Lee's father Bill, an accomplished jazz musician and composer, provided the music for the score. The film earned Lee an Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science's Student Award.
2. Music videos: Lee has produced a number of music videos for artists including Prince, Michael Jackson, Eminem and The Killers. The video for Land of the Free by The Killers incorporated real-life scenes of migrants Lee shot at the US-Mexico border, in protest at the US government's current approach to immigration. Brandon Flowers, lead singer of The Killers, approached Lee to collaborate on the project after watching BlacKkKlansman.
3. Documentaries: Lee is known for unflinching documentaries which shine the spotlight on American issues, including When the Levees Broke (2006), which centred on the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, and 4 Little Girls (1997), which focused on 1963's 16th Street Baptist Church tragedy in Birmingham Alabama. 4 Little Girls was nominated for a Best Documentary Oscar and has been selected for preservation in the US National Film Registry.
4. Star maker: Superstar actor Samuel L Jackson, The Matrix star Laurence Fishburne, Coen Brothers regular John Turturro and Breaking Bad's Giancarlo Esposito are just three acclaimed actors who rose to stardom after appearing in Spike Lee Joints. Oscar winner Halle Berry and rapper turned actress Queen Latifah made their film debuts in Lee's Jungle Fever. Denzel Washington worked with Lee on Mo' Better Blues and He Got Game, and received a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his portrayal of the title character in Malcolm X. Behind the scenes, Ruth Carter, an Oscar winner for Costume Design on Black Panther, got her breakthrough in Lee's School Daze (1988).
5. Oscar glory: In 2019, Lee won a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for BlacKkKlansman, which also received nominations for Best Picture and Best Director. Lee has two previous nominations: Best Original Screenplay for Do the Right Thing (1990) and Best Documentary Feature for 4 Little Girls (1998). Lee also received an Honorary Oscar in 2015, cited as 'a champion of independent film and an inspiration to young filmmakers'. Other career accolades include an Emmy for When the Levees Broke (2006) and a Bafta for BlacKkKlansman (2019).