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US Cannes 2018 Racism

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Spike Lee's BlacKKKlansman brings his fight against racism to Cannes

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Spike Lee, director of 'BlacKKKlansman', at the Cannes international Film Festival, 15 May 2018 REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

Spike Lee’s latest film is part of his constant fight against racism. Set in the 1970s, BlacKKKlansman is based on a real life story of an African American police officer in the US who infiltrates the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan group. Rosslyn Hyams has this report.

 


BlacKKKlansman stars John David Washington and Adam Driver as two smart, funny undercover police officers. African American Washington is a romantic - very conscious about his hairstyle - who falls in love with student leader Patrice played by Laura Harrier and who, in turn, becomes a target of racist attack.

Driver plays Ron's secular Jewish partner, Flip. Together, the duo thwart a plan to stop a black power movement in its tracks.

Black and Jewish, the police officers take big risks, throwing themselves into the lion's den, with the officer Ron Stallworth, the character's real-life name, virtually rubbing noses with David Duke, the real name of the head of the KKK.

The film’s gymnastic title is an introduction to Lee’s clever and often comic language.

Speaking of language, Lee would win the prize for the most politically incorrect scenario, if there were one.

At Cannes, Lee used a string of expletives during the press conference as he expressed anger at the way the current US leader handled the 2017 riots in Charlottesville, Virginia. The race revolt was a starting point for the film, although the direct reference comes at the end.

"I would like to say this is not something that pertains just to the United States of America. This right-wing bullshit is not just America, it's all over the world. I know in my heart, I don't care what the critics say or anybody else, we are the right side of history with this film," he said.

Lee's film is not anti any colour or creed or religion, it's anti-racism and against anti-semitism, it's against fuelling hatred.

The buzz after the screening at Cannes forecast a triumph for Spike Lee's 25th feature film which combines obvious and less well-known angles in debates about racism and anti-semitism.

Another reason to recommend the film is the simply foot-tapping good music.