Spike Lee

The director of 'Do The Right Thing' is considered one of today's most influential directors thanks to his prodigious talent and outspoken portrayal of African-American life


Spike Lee burst onto the movie scene in 1986, with the powerful blow for black moviemaking, 'She's Gotta Have It'. This independently produced, stylish, black-and-white (and partly colour) feature did surprising box-office business, and garnered critical acclaim at the Cannes Film Festival.

Between film projects, Lee directed himself as Mars, in an Anita Baker music video, as well as two Nike Air Jordan television commercials.

TV has been a much more frequent outlet for Lee's creative energies, as he battles to make uncompromising yet commercial films about the black experience within Hollywood's white-dominated financing, production and distribution system.

Following the success of 'She's Gotta Have It', a number of black musical artists, including Miles Davis, Branford Marsalis, Steel Pulse and Grandmaster Flash, sought Lee to direct their music videos.

Lee's second feature, 'School Daze', despite being underfinanced by Columbia Pictures, grossed more than twice its cost. 'Do the Right Thing' enlarged upon his successes on several levels - commercially, artistically and thematically, focussing critically on a predominantly black environment.

Lee's next two films - 'Mo' Better Blues' and 'Jungle Fever' - failed to live up to the dramatic promise of 'Do the Right Thing', though both boasted strong performances and increasingly showy camerawork.

Lee's next project would prove to be both his most ambitious and most controversial -'Malcolm X 'was a surprisingly traditional biopic, which reaches an emotionally devastating climax. His 1994 film, 'Crooklyn', was a loosely structured story of a jazz musician, his wife and their children, in Brooklyn of the 1970s, while 'Clockers' focused on crack dealers in Jersey City.

Recent work has included 'Summer of Sam', 'Bamboozled' and '25th Hour', with Ed Norton and Philip Seymour Hoffman. His latest films include 'Oldboy' (2013) and 'Da Sweet Blood Of Jesus' (2014).