Independent filmmaker Spike Lee's first feature, She's Gotta Have It, has garnered critical adulation and popular success. He joins Fresh Air to discuss his experiences as a black director, having an all-black cast, and making a movie that deals frankly with women's sexual desires.
Spike Lee's new movie, about a neighborhood's response to the murder of a black man, climaxes in a violent ending that many believe sends an ambiguous message about race relations in the U.S. Lee disagrees, and tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that the movie's intent is clear.
The African American film director is best known for Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, which added a political dimension to the black action movie genre. Van Peebles says that, unlike his own work, the blaxploitation films that came later were apologies for systems of oppression, not critiques of them. Prior to his career in film, he lived in France as a writer. His new book, coauthored by his son Mario, is called No Identity Crisis.
The African American film director made a number of documentary films; his first widely distributed, commercial film, To Sleep with Anger, stars Danny Glover. Burnett comes from the American South; he's inspired by a lot of the folklore that comes from that region.
Parks directed the early black action film, Shaft. His son, who died in 1979, was also a director. The elder Parks began his career as a photographer for Vogue and Life, and documented difficult aspects of the African American experience. He's just written his memoir, "Voices in the Mirror."
Wendell's new movie is "Chameleon Street," about an imposter: a young black man who successfully passed himself off as a surgeon, a Yale Student, a Time magazine journalist, and an attorney. It's based on a true story, and won the 1990 Sundance Film Festival's Grand Jury Prize for Best Dramatic Film.
First-time film director John Singleton. His new film is "Boyz N the Hood," which is set in South Central L.A. where Singleton grew up. A number of theatres across the country have cancelled the showing of "Boyz N the Hood," because of violent outbreaks at or near theatres where its been shown. Over 30 people have been injured and one killed. But the film itself is plea to stop the violence and killing.
Warrington and Reginald Hudlin produced and directed the new Eddie Murphy film "Boomerang," said, at $40 million, to be the largest big budget film made by African-Americans. Their previous film, "House Party," was made for $2.6 million and was one of the most profitable movies ever made by African-Americans. Despite their success, the brothers say that Hollywood still hasn't made enough progress with regard to black actors and directors.
In addition to his movies, Duke directed several off-Broadway plays, and lots of television, including PBS's award winning teleplays, "The Meeting," and "A Raisin in the Sun." His films include, "A Rage in Harlem," and "Deep Cover." His latest film is "The Cemetery Club," about three Jewish widows who meet up with an charming widower.