The Directors Guild of America will honor a pioneering black director Spike Lee with the “Lifetime Achievement Award for Distinguished Achievement in Motion Picture Direction”. Announced on Wednesday, January 19, the Brooklyn native will be become the 36th director in history to receive this prestigious distinction.
Lee will receive the honor at the 74th Annual DGA Awards Ceremony on March 12.
Lesli Linka Glatter, the chairman of the DGA, made the announcement saying: “Icon. Pioneer. Visionary. Spike Lee changed the face of cinema, and there isn’t a single word that sums up his importance to the director’s profession. From his groundbreaking “Do the Right Thing,” “BlacKkKlansman” and everything in between — to his signature “double dolly” kick, Spike is an innovator on so many levels. »
“His bold and passionate storytelling over the past three decades was masterfully entertaining as it vividly reflected our society and our culture,” she said.
“While he’s no stranger to huge commercial success, he’s also the beating heart of indie film,” Glatter continued in honor of the 40 Acres and A Mule founder.
Lee, a Morehouse graduate, had a 30 years of career in cinema. Some of his greatest movies he wrote and directed are “She’s Gotta Have It”, “School Daze”, “Do the Right Thing”, “Mo’ Better Blues”, “Jungle Fever”, “Malcolm X”, “Crooklyn,” “Clockers”, “Girl 6”, “Get on the Bus”, “He Had a Game”, “Summer of Sam”, “Bamboozled”, “25th Hour”, “She Hate Me”, ” Insideman”. Miracle at St. Anna”, “Red Hook Summer”, “Old Boy” and “Chi-Raq”.
BlacKkKlansman, a film starring John David Washington, earned him DGA Award and Oscar nominations in 2018.
“Even though countless filmmakers call Spike their mentor and inspiration, he continues to dedicate his time to teaching future generations how to leave their mark,” she said.
Thanks to his partnership with Netflix, he was able to mentor other filmmakers and produce their films. These projects include “Da 5 Bloods” (which he directed and co-wrote), the series “She’s Gotta Have It” (which he created, wrote and directed), the film version of “Rodney King” (which he directed), and Stefon Bristol’s science fiction film “See You Yesterday” (which he produced).
Stefon Bristol, who followed Lee’s path through his undergraduate studies at HBCU and master’s degree at NYU, said Spike changed his life through mentorship and producing his first film, “See You Yesterday.” . The two will collaborate on another feature, “Gordon Hemingway & The Realm of Cthulhu.”
Bristol tweeted: “I am honored to work again with my mentor, Mr. Spike Lee. Also, a privilege to be on a trip with the producers of The Watchmen and Hell Boy (Lloyd and Beatriz Levin) to create a monster movie!
It’s this kind of investment in the future of other black directors that made Glatter say, “We are thrilled to present Spike with the DGA’s highest honor.
Last August, he directed and produced the four-part documentary essay “NYC EPICENTERS 9/11➔2021½” released by HBO and airing on HBO Max. Lee’s directed version of “David Byrne’s American Utopia” was also released by HBO and earned him a DGA Award nomination for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Variety/Talk/News/Sports – Specials.
In the history of the guild, this recognition is one of the highest honors granted to a creator.
Directors such as Frank Capra, Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles, Billy Wilder, Steven Spielberg, Miloš Forman have been honored with this prestigious distinction. The last person to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award was Ridley Scott in 2017.
Lee has had two DGA award nominations aside from this honor. He has been nominated for five Oscars (“Do The Right Thing” for the original screenplay, “4 little girls” for the feature documentary, “BlacKkKlansman” for cinematography, director and winner of best adapted screenplay).
This organization also awarded him an honorary Oscar in 2015 for his lifetime achievement and his contributions to the state of the arts and sciences of cinema.
Other DGAs will announce other appointments next week. Nominations for Outstanding Achievement as a Director in Television, Commercials and Documentaries will be announced on January 26, and nominations for Outstanding Achievement as a Director in a Feature Film will be announced on January 27.
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