Spike Lee is to receive a BFI Fellowship, the highest honor bestowed by the UK’s lead organization for film.

The award will be presented to filmmaker Lee at an event at BFI Southbank, hosted by BFI Chair Tim Richards and BFI Chief Exec Ben Roberts, with an on stage Q&A with Spike Lee accompanied by a screening of Summer of Sam, on 13 February 2023.

While in the UK, Lee will visit teams at the BFI National Archive, who have liaised with the director on a new 35mm print of Malcolm X (1992), to premiere at the BFI’s inaugural Film on Film Festival taking place at BFI Southbank in June. He will also take a masterclass with young filmmakers.

Born in Atlanta in 1957 but raised in Brooklyn, New York City, Lee received his MFA in Film Production at NYU/Tisch. After graduation, he founded 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks, based in Brooklyn.

Among his string of acclaimed movies are Cannes title She’s Gotta Have It, Oscar nominee Do the Right Thing, Jungle Fever, the aforementioned Malcolm X and Summer Of Sam, and Oscar winner BlacKkKlansman.

Lee has also directed TV (Netflix series She’s Gotta Have It) and documentaries including Oscar-nominated 4 Little Girls and Emmy winner When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts (2006) and If God is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise (2010), both for HBO, and Michael Jackson docs Bad 25 and Off The Wall.

Lee commented today: “I’m Blessed To Live Up To My Ancestors Credo “DEEDS, NOT WORDS”. I Thank The BFI For Helping Me in Continuing My Generations Of Family Legacy. Peace And Love. YA-DIG? SHO-NUFF.”

Tim Richards, BFI Chair, said: “I am honoured and excited to be awarding Spike Lee the prestigious BFI Fellowship. Lee has such a distinctive voice as an auteur, unafraid to challenge ideas of race, gender and class throughout his career with his unique cinematic style. A true renaissance man and pioneer, he has excelled in so many art forms, staying original, fresh and as relevant to contemporary audiences as those who have enjoyed his work for over thirty years. I am delighted to be celebrating his enormous talent and individuality with a BFI Fellowship.”

BFI Fellowship recipients include Martin Scorsese and Thelma Schoonmaker, Satyajit Ray, Tilda Swinton, David Lean, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, Steve McQueen, Akira Kurosawa, Nicholas Roeg, Orson Welles, Ridley Scott, Ousmane Sembène, Bernardo Bertolucci and Souleymane Cissé.


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