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May 17, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Until Spike Lee entered the room, the third-floor auditorium at Cannes’ Palais des Festivals where press conferences are conducted, had been virtually Trump free. Hardly any mention of the U.S. president had been uttered by the international filmmakers, several of them card-carrying radicals, as they sat for interviews following the screening of their films.

And then Lee arrived. “I’m not going to say his fucking name,” Lee said in expletive-filled remarks. He didn’t have to.

His latest movie, BlackKkKlansman, based on the real-life story of Ron Stallworth, a black police officer who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s, received a standing ovation at its world premiere in Cannes on Tuesday. It ends with a montage of scenes, shot at the Charlottesville white nationalist rally last year, dedicated to Heather Heyer, who was killed when a man plowed his car into a group of counterprotesters there. Lee called her death “a murderous act” and “an ugly, ugly blemish on the United States of America.”

“That “guy in the White House,” Lee continued, “defined that moment not just for Americans but the world. And that motherfucker did not denounce the motherfucking Klan, the alt-right, and those Nazis motherfuckers. It was a defining moment, and he could have said to the world, not just the United States, that we were better than that.”

He concluded: “I don’t care what the critics say or anybody else, but we are on the right side of history with this film.” He concluded his remarks by apologizing “for some profane words,” but added, “The shit that’s going on, it makes you want to curse.”

Lee’s film, on the other hand, made many Cannes critics want to cheer. Justin Chang in Variety called it “a major comeback” for Lee. Todd McCarthy in the Hollywood Reporter agreed, calling the movie “Spike Lee’s most flat-out entertaining film in quite a long time, as well as his most commercial.” Also in agreement was Steve Pond in the online trade daily, The Wrap, who wrote that Lee’s film is as “impassioned and messy and vital as anything he’s done in decades.” Time magazine’s Stephanie Zacharek remarked that BlackKkKlansman “might not be the movie that wins [the Palme d’Or, the top prize]; but it’s the one that deserves to win.” Tim Grierson, in the British trade publication Screen Daily called it “sobering, darkly funny, uneven and impossible to ignore.”

Lee intends to release the film in the U.S. on August 12, the first anniversary of the Charlottesville incident.