NEW DELHI: The veteran Spike Lee’s latest film Da Sweet Blood of Jesus is a remake of Bill Gunn’s 1973 Ganja and Hess, a film Lee himself saw when he was in film school.
To make the film, Lee who teaches as a film professor at New York University turned to Kickstarter for crowd-funding.
“I learned about crowdfunding from my students — IndieGoGo, Kickstarter, and how they were financing their films,” Lee told The Wrap.
“I said to myself that I could do this. And then I began to think about what we could do, because I knew a lot of times, when you do independent cinema you have to work backwards — how much money you have to make the film, and then you make the film. I knew we weren’t going to do Malcolm X on Kickstarter, it wasn’t going to happen.” Still, the more modestly budgeted film did get made thanks to fan contributions.
But the legendary director admitted he is not completely happy with how many people are watching movies these days. “As a filmmaker, I do not want my film to be seen on an iPhone,” he said bluntly. “I understand the convenience. But it hurts me. Nowadays, there are very few repertory theatres that show old stuff like there was when I was in film school. We would always go see stuff. So a lot of the stuff, you are never gonna see it the way it was meant to be seen, projected.”
While he is happy people are watching Malcolm X, but the first time you see it, it is on your iPhone? Cinematographer Ernest Dickerson and I modeled those films on the epic films by David Lean, we wanted to have that size and scope, like Lawrence of Arabia, Bridge Over the River Kwai, Doctor Zhivago,” he recalled.
Starring two little-known actors (Broadway star Stephen Tyrone Williams and Zaraah Abrahams) and splitting time between Martha's Vineyard and New York City, the movie is about a lonely, rich African-American scholar who becomes addicted to blood when he is stabbed with a sword used by the ancient, bloodthirsty Ashanti people.
It is a departure for the director, half art film and half social commentary. Lee says that the movie acts in part as a metaphor for addictions of all kinds, which he posits are at an all-time high in America, but was clear about which he thought was the country's greatest addiction: violence.
“This country was founded on violence,” Lee said “Africans were brought here to this land (the United States), and then the genocide of Native Americans, that is the foundation upon which this country was built. It is simple, not taught in schools. We are taught some other stuff, and particularly, how we are taught is through the media. And as African Americans, we were taught how barbaric Africa was, with the Tarzan movies and whatnot, and the savages of the Native Americans in the many, many John Ford, John Wayne films.”
“And the NRA is responsible for it,” he said. “These video games are not helping either.”
My son is 17, my daughter is 19 — they know now what i knew at 25. Just all the stuff that young people are exposed to. Here in New York, we had channel 2, 4, 5, 9, 11, and maybe 13. We have got 900 channels on DirecTV, then the Internet. As a parent, I am trying to get my kids to study. They have got the headphones on, the TV is on, the computer is on, the phone, and they are trying to do their homework. They do not turn their phone off when they go to sleep. I am guilty of this too.”