The first trailer has landed for Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman, a fact-based drama about an undercover cop infiltrating the Klu Klux Klan in the 1970s.
The film stars former American football player and Ballers star John David Washington as black detective Ron Stallworth, who worked together with a white cop, played by Adam Driver, to take down the Colorado arm of the racist organization. Stallworth eventually became the head of the local chapter.
BlacKkKlansman review – Spike Lee’s clanging rebuke to the New Trump Order
“Ron Stallworth is reading the paper, the Colorado Springs Gazette, and the Klan put an ad in the paper that they needed new members,” Lee explained in a recent Tribeca film festival panel. “Ron Stallworth thinks that it’s a goof so he calls up and, thinking it’s a joke, leaves his real name and phone number on a voicemail – and the Klan calls back. They say, ‘We want you to come down.’ Since he’s an African American, he can’t really show up for the interview. He has to get a white police officer to play him, and that’s Adam Driver.”
The film is premiering in competition at the Cannes film festival and is based on Stallworth’s memoir. It’s produced by Jordan Peele, who won the Oscar for best original screenplay for his hit satirical thriller Get Out.
“I was just blown away,” Peele said to the Hollywood Reporter when he first heard the story. “I couldn’t believe I had never heard about it. It’s one of these pieces of reality that almost plays like social satire. So, I was immediately obsessed with this story.”
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Pre-production on the film began as events in Charlottesville took place last year and Peele said the timing couldn’t be any more “urgent” for this story to be told. The US release date of 10 August also coincides with the beginning of James Fields Jr’s trial, the man Lee refers to as “the motherfucker psychopath who plows his car down through a crowded street and killed Heather Heyer”.
It’s Lee’s first traditional feature film since 2015’s Chi-Raq, having directed theater/cinema hybrids Rodney King and Pass Over since. He also remade his 1986 comedy She’s Gotta Have It as a Netflix series in 2017.
Early reactions from Cannes have been mostly positive. The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw tweeted that it “lights up like a pinball machine” while Indiewire’s David Ehrlich said it was “a wildly uneven but righteous **** you to Trump”. The film also reportedly received a 10-minute standing ovation.
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