×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Spike Lee Slams Trump as ‘Motherf—er’ After ‘BlacKkKlansman’ Cannes Premiere

Spike Lee delivered a blistering attack against Donald Trump on Tuesday, refusing to mention the president by name while saying he’d shirked his moral duty to speak out in the aftermath of last year’s deadly riots in Charlottesville.

Appearing at a press conference alongside the stars of “BlacKkKlansman,” which world premiered in Cannes on Monday night, the director said the film was on the “right side of history” while denouncing the president for not taking a firm stance in the wake of violence that erupted following a white nationalist rally, leaving three people dead.

“That motherf—er was given a chance to say we are bout love, and not hate, and that motherf—er did not denounce the motherf—ing Klan, the alt-right, and those Nazi motherf—ers,” he said.

“It was a defining moment, and he could’ve said to the world…that we were better than that.”

“BlacKkKlansman” is based on the incredible true story of black police detective Ron Stallworth (John David Washington), who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s.

Describing it as a “major comeback” for Lee, Variety called the film “as much a compelling black empowerment story as it is an electrifying commentary on the problems of African-American representation across more than a century of cinema.”

Though set in the ‘70s, Lee said it was “our job as filmmakers and storytellers…to connect this period piece to the present day.” He framed the film in the context of the bloody history of a country he said “was built upon the genocide of native people, and slavery,” calling it “the fabric of the United States of America.”

He added, “What’s happening did not just pop up out of thin air.”

Lee recalled watching the Charlottesville violence unfold on CNN while in Martha’s Vineyard, and recognizing “right away” that the footage “had to be my…coda for the film.”

The director got permission from the mother of Heather Heyer, who was killed when a man drove a Dodge Charger into a crowd of protesters, to use footage of her death in the movie. “I was not gonna put that murder scene in the film without her blessing,” he said.

Focus will be releasing “BlacKkKlansman” in the U.S. on the one-year anniversary of the riots, which Lee described as an “ugly, ugly, ugly blemish on the United States of America.”

Calling the film a “wake-up call,” he repeatedly returned to the moral failings of President Trump, while adding that the rise in right-wing hate speech and violence had become a global scourge. “We look to our leaders to give us direction, to make moral decisions, and I like to say this is not just something that pertains to the United States of America, this bulls–t is going all over the world,” he said.

“We have to wake up,” Lee added. “And we can’t be silent.”

“BlacKkKlansman” is peppered with digs at the current president – one KKK member talks about embracing an “America first” policy – while drawing parallels between the rise of Trump and the political aspirations of former Grand Wizard David Duke (Topher Grace). After the premiere, the film received a six-minute standing ovation.

Lee walked the red carpet Monday evening wearing the iconic “love” and “hate” brass knuckles from “Do the Right Thing.” Speaking on Tuesday, he said that while he couldn’t predict the outcome of this year’s mid-term elections – “even though my friends call me Negrodamus” – he still remained hopeful about the future.

“I believe in hope, but I’m not blind or deaf,” he said. “I think that you could be hopeful but still be aware of what’s happening. Too many people walking around in a daze.”

RELATED CONTENT:

More Film

  • Oh Mercy

    Cannes Film Review: 'Oh Mercy'

    It takes more than just watching “Oh Mercy” to understand exactly why Arnaud Desplechin was drawn to the subject matter of his latest movie, a reasonably engrossing police procedural with roots in a 2008 TV documentary. Something of an unexpected detour in the veteran director’s weighty career, the film combines multiple strands to paint a [...]

  • Spielberg's Amblin Chief Jeff Small on

    Listen: Spielberg's Amblin Chief on Making 'Movies in the Middle'

    With the sequel “A Dog’s Journey” now in theaters, Amblin Partners continues to find ways to release the kind of films that aren’t typical of what dominates American multiplexes these days. An follow-up to the 2017 surprise hit “A Dog’s Purpose,” “Journey” is just another example of the cinematic strategy evident at Amblin, the production [...]

  • I Lost My Body

    French Animation 'I Lost My Body' Tops Cannes Critics' Week Winners

    “I Lost My Body,” a dark French animated film from writer-director Jérémy Clapin, has come up trumps in this year’s Critics’ Week program at the Cannes Film Festival, taking the strand’s top honor, the Nespresso Grand Prize. The film, which follows a young man’s severed hand as it struggles to be reunited with its own, [...]

  • Contract Placeholder Business WGA ATA Agent

    Talent Agents Blast Verve Agreement With Writers Guild

    The lead negotiator for Hollywood’s talent agencies has again blasted the Writers Guild and its recent agreement with the Verve agency — and cautioned other agencies against following suit. Verve defected from the major agencies on May 16 when it became the first sizable Hollywood talent agency to sign the WGA’s Code of Conduct. That [...]

  • Forest Whitaker

    Netflix Teams With Forest Whitaker on 'Hello, Universe' Movie

    Netflix and Forest Whitaker are collaborating on live-action family movie “Hello, Universe,” based on the 2018 Newbery Award winner and New York Times bestselling novel by Erin Entrada Kelly. Playwright and screenwriter Michael Golamco (“Always Be My Maybe”) will adapt the book. Whitaker and Nina Yang Bongiovi (“Fruitvale Station”) of Significant Productions will produce. The [...]

  • Lauren Ash44th Annual Gracie Awards, Show,

    Politics and New Abortion Ban Laws Dominate 2019 Gracie Awards

    Female empowerment was in the air Tuesday night as showrunners, writers and performers gathered at the 44th annual Gracie Awards to celebrate women breaking barriers and shattering glass ceilings within the entertainment industry. Sandra Oh, Patricia Arquette, Rachel Maddow and Connie Britton were among the honorees at the ceremony, which took place at the Beverly [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content