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Spike Lee’s ‘BlacKkKlansman’ debuts to standing ovation at Cannes

According to Variety’s Ramin Setoodeh and Brett Lang, Lee will be a “strong contender” for Cannes’ best-director prize.

Lee, 61, has been a vocal critic of President Donald Trump’s policies and handling of racial issues, which he sees as discriminatory to black Americans and people of color in general. “BlacKkKlansman,” some critics say, is in many ways a rejection of what Lee views as Trump’s America.

At a news conference Tuesday, the filmmaker fiercely criticized the president’s handling of the white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia, which resulted in the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer and dozens of injuries. Trump said the rallies included “some very fine people on both sides.”

Spike Lee’s ‘BlacKkKlansman’ debuts to standing ovation at Cannes
Spike Lee’s ‘BlacKkKlansman’ debuts to standing ovation at Cannes

The president, Lee said, failed to fully denounce the KKK, members of the alt-right and Nazis who had gathered to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee last August.

“It was a defining moment,” Lee said in an expletive-filled monologue that lasted five minutes, according to people who were in the audience.” And he could have said to the world, not just the United States, that we were better than that.”

“BlacKkKlansman” concludes with a montage of the chaos that erupted in Charlottesville, including a graphic scene of Heyer’s death, which Lee said he included with the permission of Heyer’s mother.

The movie’s official release date of Aug. 10 was timed to coincide with the anniversary of the Charlottesville rallies.

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