News - February 2006

Filmmaker Spike Lee to Speak at University of Rochester

One of the most influential filmmakers in contemporary cinema will be the featured speaker for Black History Month at the University of Rochester. Spike Lee, producer and director of such films as She's Gotta Have It and Malcolm X, will appear at 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23, in Strong Auditorium on the University's River Campus.

Lee is recognized for his controversial and complex explorations of identity, race, class, and sex. She's Gotta Have It, made in 1986 on a shoestring budget, followed the romantic encounters of an attractive black Brooklyn woman and won the Prix de Jeunesse Award at Cannes. Three years later, Do the Right Thing, which explored simmering urban racial tensions, earned a Best Screenplay Oscar nomination. Lee's 1991 film Jungle Fever spotlighted an interracial romance and its effect on family and community relationships.

More recently, Lee broadened his subject matter with such films as Summer of Sam, his take on how the "Son of Sam" serial murders affect residents in an Italian-American neighborhood, and 25th Hour, about a drug dealer's last day of freedom before starting his prison sentence. He also made the documentaries 4 Little Girls, a film about the 1963 bombing of an African-American church that was nominated for an Oscar and received the Broadcast Film Critics Award; and The Original Kings of Comedy, a concert film featuring African-American comedians Steve Harvey, D.L. Hughley, Cedric the Entertainer, and Bernie Mac.

Lee has directed television commercials for companies like Levi's and AT&T and music videos for artists ranging from Tracy Chapman to Public Enemy. He has established a chain of Spike's Joints apparel boutiques and created the 40 Acres and a Mule Film Institute at Long Island University to offer instruction on the business of filmmaking.

Tickets for Lee's talk are $15 for the general public; $10 for University of Rochester faculty, staff, and graduate students; and $5 for University of Rochester undergraduates. They will be sold in advance beginning at 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 20, at the Common Market in Wilson Commons on the River Campus and also will be available, if not sold out, at the door. For more information, contact the Wilson Commons Common Connection at (585) 275-5911.

Lee's local talk is cosponsored by the Outside Speakers Committee, Black Students Union, and UR Cinema Group.


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