Monday, May 23, 2022

BLACKkKLANSMAN: Clips and Conversation with Spike Lee at Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival (Photos)

martha's vineyard - floyd & stephanie rance
Floyd and Stephanie Rance

*Every August, Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts hosts the Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival. Now in it’s 16th year, this brain child of Floyd and Stephanie Rance, co-owners of Run & Shoot Filmworks, brings some of the biggest names in films, not Black films, but FILMS … to the island.

On Monday (08-06-18), the Festival’s opening presentation was two hours of exclusive, “Clips and Conversation with Academy Award Winning Director Spike Lee, Actor John David Washington and Author Ron StallworthBLACKkKLANSMAN.”

The weather has been atypical for “the Cape and Islands” with humidity and temperature in the sweltering range, but the folks came out to see their island neighbor Spike, who has lived on MV for over 20 years, for the SRO evening.

martha's vineyard - hot ticket
the hottest ticket of the festival

The buzz in the line was of hopefulness, even anxiousness that this film would be a critical and commercial winner for Spike Lee. As one attendee put it:

“I loved the documentaries (The Academy award nominated “4 Little Girls”, and Emmy winner “When the Levees Broke”), but I want him to have a big hit movie like Malcolm X.”

Spike’s entrance drew thunderous applause. He was relaxed, happy and animated, obviously feeling very much at home with an audience of his island neighbors, Morehouse alums, and industry friends. Between incredible clips of the films he told stories about informing President Obama of the Charlottesville clash as he came off the 18th hole, which borders Spike’s house.  He gave a touching tribute to the talent of his young star John David Washington and spoke of the difficulties of being the offspring of a famous man (John David is the son of Spike Lee’s other favorite leading man Denzel Washington), which he personally observed friend and classmate Martin Luther King III endure.

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martha's vineyard - sro crowd
SRO crowd waiting for Spike Lee

The evening had a close, comfy feeling or that of a family reunion. A feeling that typifies the entire vibe of the Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival. The majority of the audience were repeat attendees, but they welcomed us first timers with roaring applause. But, we were there for a serious film.  Jordan Peele (“Get Out” 2017) pitched the concept to Spike. It only took six words Black police officer infiltrates the KKK.  Spike was adamant that this film “is not a history lesson.” Indeed, it is not. This film speaks to what is happening in America today.

Ron Stallworth, the first African-American detective to serve in the Colorado Springs Police Department, and the officer who is the subject of “BLACKkKLANSMAN,” regaled the audience with incredible stories of his tour of duty with the police force. He even when into his cell phone to replay a very creepy voice mail left by none other than David Dukes, former Grand Wizard of the KKK.

RELATED NEWS: JOHN DAVID WASHINGTON SAYS MOM PAULETTA GAVE HIM ‘A LOT OF WHOOPINGS BACK IN THE DAY’

martha's vineyard - (Actor John David Washington, Author Ron Stallworth and Director Spike Lee)
Actor John David Washington, Author Ron Stallworth and Director Spike Lee

Dukes was apparently concerned about how the film was going to portray him, said Stallworth, which elicited peals of laughter  from Spike and the audience. Stallworth then said quite seriously …

“David Dukes is extremely charming, but when he talks about race it’s like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. You cannot sleep on people like this. They are a dangerous threat.”

The film will also feature incredible new music from Prince, “Mary Don’t You Weep” which was taped in 1981 but discovered after his untimely death.

“BLACKkKLANSMAN” premieres nationwide August 10, one year after terrorist and racist  attack in Charlottesville, VA.

subrina wood
Subrina Wood

Subrina Wood is a movie critic and film festival blogger, specializing in promotion of independent films of the diaspora. She can be found at www.cinnamoncinephile.com

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