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Spike Lee Still Courting Controversy With Latest Film

Director Spike Lee talks with CBS 2's Jim Williams about his new, independently produced film, "Red Hook Summer." (CBS)

Director Spike Lee talks with CBS 2′s Jim Williams about his new, independently produced film, “Red Hook Summer.” (CBS)

Jim Williams (CBS) Jim Williams
Jim Williams, a native Chicagoan, co-anchors the CBS 2 Chicago Wee...
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CHICAGO (CBS) — One of America’s most provocative filmmakers is at it again.

Spike Lee’s “Red Hook Summer” could end up being one of the most talked-about movies of the year.

CBS 2’s Jim Williams sat down with a director who often welcomes controversy.

Spike Lee just might be the best salesman in the film industry. And he came CBS 2 to promote his new movie, “Red Hook Summer,” which already has generated debate from screenings.

The director of “Do the Right Thing” and “Malcolm X” now tells the story of Flik, a middle-class teenager from Atlanta who reluctantly spends a summer with his grandfather, a strict preacher, who lives in a Brooklyn housing project.

Much of the film focuses on the church, which has always been so important in the black community. And it includes dialogue that questions whether religious faith or self-reliance should be more important in the lives of African Americans.

The film is shocking and will surely make some black churchgoers angry.

“It’s the thing people going to grab, but there’s a lot of stuff in there, too,” Lee says.

But don’t ask Lee how he wants the audience to respond.

“Five films ago I stopped answering that question,” he says.

He wants people to decide for themselves. Starting with “She’s Gotta Have It” 26 years ago, Lee has known how to make a movie for relatively little money. And with “Red Hook Summer,” he’s relying on scores of interviews and social media to get the word out.

He had to pick up the tab himself at a time when Hollywood is gunning for the sure blockbuster.

“I had to do it. The studio wasn’t going to do it,” he says. “I’m not condemning them. They don’t make this type of film. I didn’t want to have any ‘creative discussions.’”

Lee says there’s no money for big advertising. With this film, he may not need it. Word of mouth, may do it for him.