September 10, 2019

Famed Director and Producer Spike Lee Coming to Cornell Sept. 20

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Correction appended. 

Award-winning director, actor, producer and author Spike Lee will be coming to Cornell for a question and answer event later this month at the invitation of the Cornell University Program Board.

Lee, an often provocative director who has risen to prominence for his unique portraits of race, “revolutionized the role of black talent in cinema,” according to James Buzaid ’22, promotions chair of CUPB.

A graduate of Morehouse College, a historically black college, Lee’s career in cinema began early. Before enrolling in New York University’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts, his produced his first student film to be showcased in Lincoln Center’s News Films Festival.

Though born in Atlanta, Lee is most closely associated with Brooklyn, New York, where he has spent most of his life and found artistic inspiration — a borough whose urban poverty and racial strife in the 1980s has served as the backdrop to some of Lee’s most influential work, such as Do The Right Thing.

The movie, which debuted in 1989 and propelled Lee to wide acclaim, went on to earn Academy Award nominations for Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor for its candid depiction of racial violence.

Considered by some to be among the greatest movies of all time, famed movie critic Roger Ebert heralded it as one of history’s few movies “about race in America that empathized with all the participants” and “didn’t draw lines or take sides, but simply looked with sadness at one racial flashpoint that stood for many others.”

Last year, Lee’s released the critically acclaimed BlacKkKlansman, a movie that centers on the first black police officer’s role in infiltrating and exposing a local KKK chapter in a Colorado town. The film won him an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay and was also nominated for the Best Picture and Best Director categories.

Other notable works from Lee include 4 Little Girls, a movie about the 4 young girls killed in the infamous 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963.

The event will take place on Friday, September 20th at 7 p.m. in Bailey. For students, tickets cost $15 for balcony seats and $18 for floor seating.
Tickets are currently available at

A previous version of this article cited the group as the Cornell University Programming Board; in fact, the group is called the Cornell University Program Board.