‘Cinematic genius’ Lee will speak tomorrow

By on February 9, 2011

Two-time Academy Award nominee Spike Lee will deliver this year’s Black History Month lecture tomorrow at 7 p.m. in Burt Kahn Court.

“[Lee] is one of the reigning cinematic geniuses,” said Raymond Foery, a film, video and interactive media professor. “What I would like Quinnipiac students to take from this whole week is the sense that they are in the presence of a great American artist, not just a great African-American artist.”

Foery has been following Lee’s entire career, he said. All students in Foery’s QU201 section titled “Spike Lee’s America” are required to attend the lecture.

“Spike Lee makes films that show African-Americans as real human beings and not caricatures,” Foery said. “Hollywood for years has painted the picture that every black person was either a drug dealer or some sort of criminal, ignoring the fact that millions of African-Americans are none of those things. He shows the world positive images of African-American culture to balance so many of the negative ones we see in the mainstream media.”

In 1990, Lee was nominated for Best Original Screenplay for “Do the Right Thing,” and in 1998 his film “4 Little Girls” was nominated for Best Documentary.

“This opportunity is amazing, personally,” freshman Tyler Yanosy said. “I feel very grateful to have such a prominent star even be able to speak at Quinnipiac, and Spike Lee is probably one of the best to have, especially for African-American history.”

Lee’s critically-acclaimed films include “Malcolm X,” “Clockers” and “Do the Right Thing.”

“He continues to have a very distinguished career,” Foery said. “I would rank him easily in our top 10 American film artists, and because I am so fond of his work I would probably put him in the top five.”

The lecture was originally planned for Friday, but was rescheduled “at the request of Lee, who has a scheduling conflict on Feb. 11,” according to a university press release.

“As a film director, producer and screenwriter he is renowned for a body of work that explores African American experience, challenges racial stereotypes, and addresses controversial subjects,” Chief Diversity Officer Diane Ariza said. “Lee is also credited with opening up the American film industry–to an unprecedented degree–to the contributions of black talent. Lee made real life in America the genre in which he performed his craft. He’s found success that no other filmmaker of color has ever achieved.”

Black Student Union and Quinnipiac Film Society are sponsoring the “Spike Lee Film Festival,” featuring Lee’s films this week in Buckman Theater. “Crooklyn” will be playing today at 1 p.m. and “Inside Man” will play tomorrow at 3 p.m.

Check out the trailer for “Inside Man”

Media credit: Youtube

“Along the way, the 50-year-old Lee and his edgy, hip and often political movies changed the Hollywood landscape and inspired others to mimic his work,” Ariza said. “If anybody in the arts has been a beacon for change, Lee would be that person.”

Previous Black History Month speakers include Pulitzer Prize winner Eugene Robinson (2010) and comedian D.L. Hughley (2009).

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