Infiltration of Ku Klux Klan in FESTIVAL SELECTION programme
On October 20 at 21.30, the Riga International Film Festival (RIGA IFF) will present the Spike Lee‘s film ‘BlacKkKlansman’, winner of the Cannes Grand Prix, within the programme FESTIVAL SELECTION – a showcase of films awarded with prestigious prizes and praised by the experts and audiences.
Spike Lee remains every bit the political provocateur who uses his films to diagnose the national mood while pressing for change. He asks not to horribly mistake it for a comedy: “People still have a hard time understanding the difference between humor and comedy. I don’t do comedy. No one is slipping on a banana peel [in my movies]. And you can have humorous moments dealing with very serious subject matter. Just because you have humor that will make people laugh does not mean that it’s a comedy.”
Film is based on the 2014 memoir ‘Black Klansman’ by Ron Stallworth — a true story that takes place in the early 1970s, a time of great social upheaval. The Colorado Springs Police Department employs the first African-American detective and his arrival is greeted with scepticism and open hostility. Nevertheless, he is determined to gain recognition in the eyes of the local community. The brave man, along with his Jewish colleague, sets out on a dangerous mission: infiltrate and expose the Ku Klux Klan.
The original Stallworth, depicted in the film, says: “To be honest with you, we were getting a lot of laughs out of it, the fact that these so called smart people were being fooled by one of the very individuals that they criticized and condemned as being intellectually inferior to them.” What illustrates the level of humor involved in the operation the best is the episode involving receiving his certificate of membership. At one point, Stallworth phoned David Duke, who was head of the KKK at the time, at his headquarters in New Orleans to ask about the status of his membership application. Duke looked through his paperwork, apologized for the delay in getting it processed, and promised to see to it personally that Stallworth’s application was processed and sent back to him. Within a short time, Stallworth’s Klan certificate of membership, signed by David Duke, arrived. He framed it and hung it on the wall of his office, where it stayed for years.
The Honorary Oscar winner Spike Lee has been calling since 1988 already to wake up and admit that racism is interweaved in the DNA of the USA. To talk about it openly would increase the chances of turning the country into a better place. The film’s theatrical release in the United States coincided with the one year anniversary of white supremacist Charlottesville rally — a violent meeting that included white nationalist Klansmen among others and resulted in 30 people being injured.