What is the course about?
Spike Lee’s first film was the 1987 battle of the sexes comedy She’s Gotta Have It, shot in 2 weeks for $200,000 (it made $7 million at the box office), a landmark in independent filmmaking. Some cite it as the entire reason for the success of independent features in the 1980s and beyond. Lee is regarded as one of the great directors of contemporary cinema.
Since the success of She’s Gotta Have It, Lee has written & directed many highly regarded films: School Daze, Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X, and BlacKkKlansman. He opened his own production company ’40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks’, making socially relevant films. Spike Lee is consistently controversial, unafraid to discuss publicly social and political issues such as racism in film and life, gun control, and government policy. He was an outspoken critic of the US governmental response to Hurricane Katrina, directing the award-winning documentary When the Levees Broke.
John Wischmeyer (MA in Film Theory) set up, ran and programmed his own cinema in West London and has since taught film studies at the former Gainsborough studio, the BFI and City Lit since 1999, Hitchcock’s centenary year. John has covered a wide range film topics under the banner ‘Cinema Investigates America’ and has a particular interest in and considerable knowledge of Hitchcock, Hollywood studios, American independent cinema and film noir, film technique and style.
What will we cover?
BlacKkKlansman (2018) is not only one of the year’s best films but one of Lee’s best as well. Juggling the somber and the hilarious, the sacred and the profane, the director is firing on all cylinders. In BlacKkKlansman Spike Lee continues to make his viewers uncomfortable in pursuit of an open discussion about important social issues. We’ll watch extracts and discuss.
We will also view and discuss extracts from When the Levees Broke (2006) - this is not about Republican or Democrat, Left or Right. This is about justice, as Lee explores in his documentary what happenend when the government let it's poorest citizens go without proper help for over 7days.
We will view and discuss extracts from a documentary on Spike Lee and his films, which will give an overview of thi director who continues to make relevant films for our age.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
Identify the key films of Spike Lee
discuss the issues Lee's film raise.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
All levels of experience are welcome.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
Tutor’s lecture/presentation illustrated with film clips and re-mixes to stimulate discussion. Handouts will be given for further research.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
Students should bring pen and paper; the tutor will provide all other materials.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
See our film studies classes under History, Culture and Writing at www.citylit.ac.uk.
General information and advice on courses at City Lit is available from the Student Centre and Library on Monday to Friday from 12:00 – 19:00.
See the course guide for term dates and further details