My introduction to Spike Lee occurred via his cult classic She’s Gotta Have it. As a curious teenager, I recall renting the film at my local video shop and rushing home excitedly to insert the tape into our VHS machine. I can’t say I was overly enthralled by what I saw. My teenage cinematic palette by then was used to bright, gregarious films which emerged from the 80s such as Back To The Future, Gremlins, Raiders of the Lost Ark – movies that were hugely commercial, and deployed quite a straightforward linear approach to storytelling. She’s Gotta Have It, with its black and white stylings, dominant jazz soundtrack that often seemed to drown out the dialogue, and the abstract approach Spike had towards filmmaking, went way above my 14-year head. Despite my initial confusion, I persisted with Spike and continued to rent out his subsequent films such as School Daze and Mo Betta Blues. By the time he released what is considered by many his cinematic opus Do The Right Thing, an unflinching, uncompromising examination of the tense racial relations that existed in a section of Brooklyn, NY, Spike became added to a list of growing public figures that I credit to this day with helping to shape my personal politics where matters of race and class are concerned.
Over the last 15 years or so, Spike’s creative output has been polarising to say the least, spanning the spectrum of the highly-regarded to the critically panned. And yet despite this, no matter what happens during the next phase of his career, his cultural impact can never be minimised. Spike recently turned 60 recently and to celebrate We Are Parable have created Spike is 60, a retrospective film festival taking place in London and Manchester between March to November 2017. The festival kicked off last weekend (the day before Spike’s birthday) with a screening of Mo Betta Blues and will continue with screenings of celebrated Spike Lee Joints such as Malcolm X, Do The Right Thing, Crooklyn and Bamboozled. Check here for full details.