Friday, February 13, 2009

Spike Lee

Shelton Jackson "Spike" Lee (born March 20, 1957) is an Emmy Award-winning and Academy Award-nominated American film director, producer, writer, and actor, noted for his films dealing with controversial social and political issues. He also teaches film at New York University and Columbia University. His production company, 40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks, has produced over 35 films since 1983. Early life Lee was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the son of Jacqueline Shelton, a teacher of arts and black literature, and William James Edward Lee III, a jazz musician, and composer.[1] Lee moved with his family to Brooklyn, New York when he was a small child. The Fort Greene neighborhood is home to Lee's production company, 40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks, and other Lee-owned or related businesses. As a child, his mother nicknamed him "Spike." In Brooklyn, he attended John Dewey High School. Lee enrolled in Morehouse College where he made his first student film, Last Hustle in Brooklyn. He took film courses at Clark Atlanta University and graduated with a B.A. in Mass Communication from Morehouse College. He then enrolled in New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. He graduated in 1978 with a Master of Fine Arts in Film & Television. Film career Lee's thesis 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, the film was shot in two weeks. When the film was released in 1986, it grossed over $7,000,000 at the U.S. box office.[2] The reception of She's Gotta Have It led Lee down a second career avenue. Marketing executives from Nike[3] offered Lee a job directing commercials for the company. They wanted to pair Lee's character from She's Gotta Have It, the Michael Jordan-loving Mars Blackmon, and Jordan himself in their marketing campaign for the Air Jordan line. Later, Lee would be a central figure in the controversy surrounding the inner-city rash of violence involving Air Jordans.[4] Lee countered that instead of blaming manufacturers of apparel, "deal with the conditions that make a kid put so much importance on a pair of sneakers, a jacket and gold". Through the marketing wing of 40 Acres and a Mule, Lee has also directed commercials for Converse, Jaguar, Taco Bell and Ben & Jerry's. Lee's movies have examined race relations, the role of media in contemporary life, urban crime and poverty, and other political issues. Awards, honors and nominations Main article: List of Spike Lee awards Lee's film Do the Right Thing was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay in 1989. Many people, including some in Hollywood, such as Kim Basinger, believed that Do the Right Thing also deserved a Best Picture nomination. "Driving Miss Daisy" won Best Picture that year and according to Spike in an April 7, 2006 interview with New York Magazine, this hurt him more than his film not receiving the nomination.[5] His documentary 4 Little Girls was nominated for the Best Feature Documentary Academy Award in 1997. On May 2, 2007, the 50th San Francisco International Film Festival honored Spike Lee with the San Francisco Film Society's Directing Award. He was most recently named the recipient of the next Wexner Prize.[6] Trademarks The borough of Brooklyn is the setting for many of Lee's theatrical releases. Lee often has a role in his films ranging from small cameo (Clockers) to leading role (Do the Right Thing). His films are referred to in their credits as "A Spike Lee Joint", except When the Levees Broke, which is referred to as "A Spike Lee Film". There is commonly a sequence using a "floating" effect, when a character seems to glide in the air like a ghost instead of walking to make it look like they are in a world of their own. Usually the actor is on a camera dolly, framed in a way that the viewer cannot see their feet. Denzel Washington has been the focus of this shot in Mo' Better Blues, Malcolm X, and Inside Man. Mekhi Phifer is given the same treatment in Clockers, as well as Laurence Fishburne in the film School Daze. Philip Seymour Hoffman and Anna Paquin have similar shots in 25th Hour. Lee incorporates something related to baseball in every one of his movies. Examples include the New York Mets in Mo' Better Blues and Jungle Fever, Dwight Gooden and Roger Clemens in Do The Right Thing, Willie Mays and Roberto Clemente in Clockers, Reggie Jackson and the New York Yankees in Summer of Sam, and Jackie Robinson in Malcolm X, amongst other recurring themes in his movies such as She Hate Me. Recurring actors A number of actors have appeared in multiple Spike Lee productions. Joie Lee (Spike's sister) and John Turturro lead the list, each having appeared in nine Spike Lee films. They are followed closely by Roger Guenveur Smith and the late Ossie Davis, who each participated in seven of Lee's projects. Courtesy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spike_Lee

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