Spike Lee engaged the Italian press with some anti-Hollywood ranting as he unveiled his WWII project about the plight of black American soldiers fighting the German army in Tuscany.
“If you look at the history of Hollywood, the black soldiers who fought WWII are totally invisible,” Lee lashed out during a packed press conference in Rome’s posh Hotel de Russie on Tuesday.
“This is the paradox: black people who were fighting for democracy but at the same time were second-class citizens at home.”
The previously announced drama is based on U.S. author James McBride’s novel “Miracle at St. Anna.”
Also on hand at the press event were 82-year-old WWII vet William Perry, a member of the Buffalo Soldiers unit that fought the Nazis in Italy, and Moreno Costa, an Italian anti-fascist partisan who fought alongside Italy’s American liberators.
Perry said his 15,000-strong Buffalo Soldiers battalion suffered 3,000 casualties in Italy.
Lee was in Rome en route to scouting Tuscan locations for the $45 million drama, for which producers Roberto Cicutto and Luigi Musini are still in talks to secure financing. Neither Italian nor international distributors are yet in place.
No news emerged regarding casting, beyond that there are four protag parts for black American male stars and roles for top German and Italian actors.
The crew will be largely Italian, Lee said. A second draft of the script penned by McBride is completed.
Plan is to start shooting early next year in New York, Tuscany and Rome’s Cinecitta Studios.