The Biennale di Venezia and Jaeger-LeCoultre announce that the great American director, screenwriter, actor and producer Spike Lee has been awarded the Jaeger-LeCoultre Glory to the Filmmaker 2012 award of the Venice International Film Festival, dedicated a personality who has brought great innovation to contemporary cinema.
The Director of the Venice Film Festival, Alberto Barbera, in regards to this acknowledgment to Spike Lee, stated: “Spike Lee is a bold creative spirit, the author of daring and corrosive films, often unpredictable and provocative in the best sense of the term. Films that challenge us to rethink our prejudices and our preconceptions.”
The prize will be conferred to Spike Lee at the awards ceremony which will take place on Friday, August 31st during the 69th Venice Film Festival (29 August – 8 September 2012), directed by Alberto Barbera and organized by the Biennale di Venezia chaired by Paolo Baratta.
Following the awards ceremony, the 69th Venice Film Festival will present the world premiere screening of the new documentary by Spike Lee, Bad 25, filmed on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Michael Jackson’s historic album, Bad. Spike Lee made two videos for Michael Jackson, They Don’t Care About Us (1997) and This Is It (2009).
Spike Lee has participated in eight previous editions of the Venice International Film Festival. In Competition twice, in 1990 with Mo’Better Blues and in 1995 with Clockers, and Out of Competition twice, in 2004 with She Hate Me and in 2005 with the episode Jesus Children of America from the film The Invisible Children. In 1997 with the documentary 4 Little Girls in the ‘Officina veneziana’ section; in 1998 with He Got Game in the ‘Notti e stelle’ section; in 2001 with the documentary A Huey P. Newton Story in the ‘Nuovi territori’ section; in 2006 with the documentary When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, which won the Orizzonti Doc award. In 2004 he was a member of the International Jury for the Competition.
Jaeger-LeCoultre is a sponsor for the eighth year in a row of the Venice International Film Festival, and for the sixth year in a row of the Glory to the Filmmaker award.
The prize has been awarded in previous years to Takeshi Kitano (2007), Abbas Kiarostami (2008), Agnès Varda (2008), Sylvester Stallone (2009), Mani Ratnam (2010), and Al Pacino (2012).
Spike Lee is considered the most famous of Afro-American directors and one of the most significant personalities in American filmmaking over the past 30 years. His films deal with political and social issues such as racism and interracial relationships. His production company is called “40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks”. The name is a reference to the 40 acres and a mule promised as compensation to African slaves after the Abolition of slavery. That promise was never kept. The son of a jazz musician, he studied at the New York University Film School with Martin Scorsese, graduating with a medium-length film (Joe’s Bed–Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads, 1983) that won the Student Academy Award and a prize at the Locarno Festival. In 1986 his first feature-length film, Lola Darling, a comedy about an independent Afro-American young woman who divided her time between two lovers, was a resounding success (it won the Prix de la Jeunesse at Cannes and the Independent Spirit Award for best debut film). The film was shot in twelve days. He later described the ghetto in Do the Right Thing (1989, Oscar nomination for Best Screenplay); told the life story of musician Charles Mingus (Denzel Washington’s first major portrayal) in Mo’ Better Blues (1990, in Competition at the Venice International Film Festival) and brought an icon of Afro-American culture to the screen in Malcolm X (1992), for which Denzel Washington won the Best Actor award in Berlin and was nominated for an Oscar. He then addressed the issue of interracial love in Jungle Fever (1991), which won a Special Jury Prize at Cannes and Best Supporting Actor award for the performance of Samuel L. Jackson. He later filmed Crooklyn (1994), Clockers (1995, presented in Competition at the Venice Film Festival), Girl 6 (1996), Get on the Bus (1996, Special Mention in Berlin), the documentary 4 Little Girls (1997, presented at the Venice Film Festival in the Officina veneziana section and nominated for an Oscar), He Got Game (1998, presented at the Venice Film Festival in the Notte e stelle section). In his acclaimed film SOS Summer of Sam (1999), for the first time he dealt exclusively with an ethnic community that was not Afro-American but Italian-American, against the background of the story of serial killer Son of Sam during the summer of 1977 in New York. Alternating feature-length films with TV series and documentaries (including A Huey P. Newton Story, presented in 2001 at the Venice Film Festival in the Nuovi territori section, and When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, winner of the Orizzonti Doc award in 2006 at the Venice Film Festival), he directed: Bamboozled (2000, in Competition in Berlin); the acclaimed 25th Hour (2002), also in Competition in Berlin, where it was particularly applauded, and hailed by critics as one of the best, if not the best, film made by the director; She Hate Me (2004, Out of Competition at the Venice Film Festival); Inside Man (2006), his first genre film, a “Shakespearean” thriller with a plot full of twists based on the “perfect robbery”: it featured an exceptional cast (Denzel Washington, Clive Owen, Jodie Foster, Christopher Plummer and Willem Dafoe), and turned out to be his greatest box-office hit; Miracle at St. Anna (2008, presented in Toronto), on the little-known episode highlighting the contribution of Afro-American soldiers to World War II; and the recent Red Hook Summer (2012), presented at the Sundance Film Festival.