Spike Lee was in Amsterdam. On Tuesday he also talked in Amsterdam South East (the Bijlmer) with young Dutch black filmmakers and fans.
Spike Lee was at the Stadsschouwberg Amsterdam as a guest of The John Adams Institute and Binger Film Lab on December 14th, to talk about his work, politics, race, identity and inspiration. And to promote his book with photographs and interviews of his success film "Do the right thing".
The newspaper Het Parool and Radio Netherlands Worldwide reported some of the questions, answers and quotes of the meeting in Amsterdam South East with the black filmmakers and fans. You can listen to some audio here.
Question from the audiance: why are there so few black actors in science fiction films. And what can young Antilleans and Surinamese learn from the African-American civil rights struggle.
Spike Lee: "I am a filmmaker, not Obi Wan Kenobi. What I do know is that education is the key to a better future. In America there are more black boys in jail then on high school. I hope things are better here."
When asked if the negative portrayal of African-Americans has come to an end now that Obama is president, Lee replied: "blacks in films are rappers, drug dealers or just idiots. That hasn’t changed, not even after Obama."
Lee continued: "American films influence the way people in the entire world talk, walk and think. But the gatekeepers in Hollywood protect the influence. Will Smith is almost the biggest star of the whole world, but he also has no access to the real power."
Lee tells his audience that it is likely that Obama will not be re-elected. "There are more death threats against Obama than any of the previous presidents of America. And that's of course because he is colored."
One of the fans of Spike Lee's is Irish Verwey. She agrees with Spike Lee that you have use your own talent to make the film you want. "There is talent," says Verwey, "but it is not bundled. This was a great moment of inspiration to achieve something together. Spike Lee does not have to come and help us, we must do it ourselves."
But Spike Lee has promised he will return to Amsterdam to attend a premiere of a Dutch black film.