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SUNDANCE: Spike Lee Debuts Shocking New Film in Park City


Sundance2012“We just doubled the black population in Utah!”

Spike Lee was in a festive mood Sunday night at the Sundance premiere of his new film, “Red Hook Summer.”

Decked out in a New York Giants jacket, the veteran director was introduced to the Eccles theater stage for a post-screening Q&A by fest director John Cooper but as soon as Lee walked to the podium, someone from the audience shouted “The Giants won! The Giants won!” referring to the football squad’s OT victory over the San Francisco 49ers.

“We’re going to the mutha fuckin’ Super Bowl!!” the director beamed.

After a bout of laughter from the audience, Lee was so excited, he looked like he nearly forgot why he was on stage.

“OK, OK,” he collected himself. “Lets get started.”

The director’s latest film, “Red Hook Summer,” tells the story of a 13 year-old boy named Flick who spends the summer in Brooklyn with his grandfather, who is also the local preacher.

“Consider this another installment in another one of my chronicles of Brooklyn,” the helmer said.

The subject matter of “Red Hook Summer” is very religious, featuring a passionate performance from actor Clarke Peters (“The Wire”), despite an intense and controversial revelation halfway through the film.

“All the church stuff comes from Mr. James McBride,” Lee said, referring to his co-writer on the film.

Peters stars as overly zealous preacher Father Enoch in “Red Hook,” trying to teach his grandson the ways of God in the impoverished Brooklyn neighborhood. Halfway through the movie, the preacher is involved in a shocking encounter, which noticeably tensed up the Eccles audience Sunday.

Lee called the dramatic twist “hard as a motherfucker” to incorporate into the pic’s message but managed to pull it off, judging from the audience’s applause afterward.

The entire cast of “Red Hook” later joined Lee onstage, as did venerable musician Bruce Hornsby, the pic’s composer, but as the questions opened up to the audience, Lee fielded an inquiry from a very well known audience member: Chris Rock.

“What would you have done with studio money?” the comedian cheekily asked.

After a chuckle, proceeded by a small diatribe against Hollywood, Lee said, “The studios know nothing about black people.”

Sundance programming director John Cooper looked slightly uncomfortable throughout most of the Q&A, gently tapping the podium with an uneasy grin, but in the end, it was just Spike being Spike.

The 54 year-old director wrapped up the discussion by sincerely thanking the Eccles audience for being the first people to see his film.

“Do me a favor, please tell them this is NOT a motherfucking sequel to ‘Do the Right Thing’!”


Follow Stuart Oldham on Twitter 

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