Why I Back Spike Lee By Steven Soderbergh
The 80s was not a great decade for American cinema; with some exceptions, the filmmakers responsible for the American New Wave that began in the latter part of the sixties had either burned out, self-destructed, or lost their way creatively, and the increasingly corporate-controlled studios weren’t really cultivating the kind of bold, idiosyncratic films that made me want to make films. It felt like the sense of what was possible had shrunk, and I worried about my future. Every so often, however, an independent film (or filmmaker) would emerge that felt connected to both those recent, great American films and to great cinema from around the world, and as I was attempting to find my own voice and place in the film world, three independent American filmmakers in particular attracted my attention and expanded my idea of what was possible; David Lynch, Jim Jarmusch, and Spike Lee. These were distinctive new voices, and the freedom (and success) they represented was liberating and energizing; these were shoulders I would try to stand on, that I would be proud to stand on.
Certain filmmakers exist outside the traditional parameters of criticism; their point of view and body of work make discussions about individual films interesting but ultimately irrelevant because each project is merely a chapter in a very long book that must (and will) be acknowledged and appreciated for its breadth, ambition, and contributions to the art of cinema. For me, Spike Lee is one of those filmmakers. He is a totally unique figure in American cinema, and he’s always gone his own way and spoken his mind (even when the commercial stakes were high), qualities which are in short supply in the film business. I know Spike’s films better than I know Spike (maybe the Knicks game with help with that), but we’re friendly enough for me to say I respect him as person as well as a filmmaker.
So, in case you haven’t figured it out already, this is why I’m supporting Spike on Kickstarter:
1. Spike’s success helped make my success possible.
2. Spike has earned my attention because of his body of work and its distinct point of view.
3. You should support your friends.
Now let’s light this candle!