Spike Lee (Atlanta, 1957) has done it again. Infiltrated in the KKKLan He has entered his direct filmography to the rank of "one of the greats". And that the project was not born of him, but inherited it from Jordan Peele, the director of Let me out, that devoured by other projects decided to produce it and put the director of Do what you should, Malcom X, Crooklyn, The Last Hour or Mo 'Better Blues in front of the story. Lee rejected it: a story about a black policeman infiltrated in the KKK sounded like comedy, until Peele warned him that it was based on real events, in the life of Ron Stallworth who was, in the seventies, the first African-American to enter the Colorado Springs Police Department. To make matters worse, Stallworth, almost jokingly, called the delegation in his city of Ku Klux Klan, and by telephone he managed to gain the confidence of the members of this organization, until he managed to enter it … with the support of a white – and Jewish – companion who supplied him in the meetings.
With those wicks, the obvious parallels with the present and his pulse between thug and propaganda, Lee won the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival and now enjoys promoting his tragicomedy – which opens today in Spain – around the world. Last week he was in Madrid and the adoption New Yorker appeared in all its splendor: guerrilla, leftover, funny, with a sharp look that throws from under the visor of his eternal cap.
Question. I was in his hilarious and guerrilla press conference in Cannes. On that occasion, not to mention his name, he called Donald Trump a son of a bitch. Has the nickname changed?
Answer. For me now it's Agent Orange. You know why? The agent orange is the other name of napalm. Destroy, kill. Agent Orange is the devil.
P. How did you make an assignment?
R. Well, working hard. But I have a certain style, I took the subject and gave it my stamp. I did my best. I thank my brother Jordan for the proposal.
"How is not there a worldwide indignation against the wall that you want to build on the border with Mexico?"
P. Did you choose the actors? It is the first great role of John David Washington, the son of Denzel; You look like the guardian of the Washington family.
R. He is a great actor. And it's already his second movie with me. He debuted as a student in Malcolm X. It was a criajo [ríe].
P. Did he give the actors material with which to document?
R. Yes, for example, Angela Davis books [legendaria activista e intelectual que en sus inicios formó parte de los Panteras Negras; un personaje femenino del filme está inspirado en ella]. I know he's in Madrid, I want to see if I can have dinner with her.
P. You in May in France were somewhat pessimistic, although militant, with respect to the United States. However, have not things gone worse in your country?
R. Of course. Everything he does with the Government, the Supreme Court and how stingy human rights, separating mothers of children in the borders … It's horrible. His use of immigrants as a scapegoat in the style of the 30s and 40s of the last century …. How is there no world outrage against the wall he wants to build on the border with Mexico?
P. Do you feel hopeless?
"The foundations of the United States are the genocide of the natives and slavery, moreover, the hard work was done by the African-Americans, slaves who built this nation"
R. No, it gives me energy. The next legislative elections will take place on November 6. And people will decide what is enough. There is an immense mobilization, and we have to support each other. Politics and culture have always gone hand in hand, they are almost inseparable. This time, too.
P. How did we get here?
R. Probably by reaction to an African-American president. We sleep on our laurels. And we forgot that we have to stay in the fight. The foundations of the United States are the genocide of the natives and slavery. What's more, the hard work was done by African-Americans, slaves who built this nation. Terrorism is at the base of Europe and the USA and a good example is Christopher Columbus, a terrorist who came from a colonial power at that time, Spain, as were England, France or Belgium.
P. You have always struggled to make the stories that matter to you. Is that the key to success in the cinema?
R. I would like to point out that I speak only for myself. I've been very fortunate, I've been making movies for four decades, I tell what I feel like, stories close to the African-American experience. And I have many to tell. I'm here in Madrid and I think of Carlos Saura, who is still active at 86 years old. I want to be like him! [estalla en carcajadas]. Or continue to the end, like Kurosawa. What a threesome, can you imagine? Kurosawa, Saura and Lee.
P. Are you worried about going back to the soft age? Infiltrated in the KKKLan it is not, but I do not know if that fear surrounds him.
"I think of Carlos Saura, who is still active at 86 years old. I want to be like him!"
R. Really, I struggle to get away from clichés or sentences … but Infiltrated in the KKKLan makes it clear that I'm still the same. I try not to use the word ever; however, if we compare my works of the last years with those of the beginning, I still have overwhelming impetus.
P. When you started there were few black directors. Today there are improvements in the interraciality of cinema, although it does not seem that enough …
R. When I directed Nola Darling in 1986 it is true that there were not many. I had a huge success. Indeed, as seen in the Oscars, we still have a long way to go. To us, to the directors, to many other minorities that we are not so much.
P. How can we fight against the growth of the extreme right throughout the world?
R. It happens in the whole world. Brexit, Italy, Brazil, Le Pen … We have to fight for the truth, because history is not altered, as Agent Orange tries. They are on the wrong side of History.
P. Can cinema change people, society?
"If we compare my works of recent years with those of the beginning, I still have overwhelming impetus"
R. You can bring different points of view, attract the attention of the public. I have a lot of confidence in the power of art: a song, a movie, a work, a book, a painting … We are, I am, a storyteller. There is nothing more powerful than culture. The United States exercises its power through culture. People think it's because of the nuclear threat. Nooo Of course the weapons do what they do, but the reason why America is present all over the world, the reason why a kid puts on his cap like that [voltea la suya y pone su visera hacia atrás] It's Hollywood, movies, rock, hip-hop, jazz … Nike, Levi's, Apple … A bomb does not change a boy's opinion, culture does.
P. My last question has to do with telling terrorism and pain without showing terrorists. You did it at one point in one of my favorite movies, The last hour, Y…
R. Sorry, but thanks for mentioning it. It is also one of my favorite works. If you remember me for her, great. I'm not worried about leaving a mark, but I know that cinema survives everything.