Academy Award–winner Spike Lee will be honored with the Film at Lincoln Center’s 46th Chaplin Award at the annual Award Gala on Monday, April 27, 2020. The Chaplin Award Gala is the most important fundraising event of the year for Film at Lincoln Center, and all proceeds benefit the organization in its mission to support the art and craft of cinema.
“We are delighted to honor Spike Lee, an original and iconic New York filmmaker,” said Ann Tenenbaum, Film at Lincoln Center’s Board Chairwoman. “It is thrilling to welcome his bold voice into the pantheon of artists who have received the Chaplin Award.”
“It’s hard to conceive of the New York film community without Spike Lee,” said FLC Executive Director Lesli Klainberg. “For four decades he has been making challenging films that speak to our vibrant city and to the larger world, and his work remains as vital as ever. We feel lucky to have had a special relationship with Lee at Film at Lincoln Center, showing his very first film at the 1983 New Directors/New Films festival, and welcoming his films to our theaters in the years since. Just last year, coinciding with his appearance on the cover of Film Comment, Lee presented BlacKkKlansman to a sold-out crowd in our Walter Reade Theater. We are honored to pay tribute to this great artist and true cinephile.”
Film at Lincoln Center will also present a selected retrospective of Lee’s films alongside the gala. “Few filmmakers have amassed a body of work as consistently vital, moving, provocative, and uncompromising as that of Spike Lee,” said FLC Director of Programming Dennis Lim. “From his 1983 student film Joe’s Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads to last year’s BlacKkKlansman, his films spare no quarter in capturing American society and the state of race relations. They compel us to look at our country, its culture, and its history anew.”
Spike Lee has left an indelible mark on filmmaking and television. His career spans 30 years and includes She’s Gotta Have It, School Daze, Do the Right Thing, Mo’ Better Blues, Jungle Fever, Malcolm X, Crooklyn, Clockers, Girl 6, Get on the Bus, He Got Game, Summer of Sam, Bamboozled, 25th Hour, She Hate Me, Inside Man, Miracle at St. Anna, Red Hook Summer, Oldboy, Chi-Raq, and his recent hit BlacKkKlansman, which won him the Grand Prix at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival and his first Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. Lee was previously a two-time Oscar nominee (Do the Right Thing for Best Original Screenplay and 4 Little Girls for Best Documentary Feature), and was awarded an Honorary Oscar in 2015 for his lifetime achievement and contributions to the state of motion picture arts and sciences.
Lee’s outstanding feature documentary work includes the double Emmy–winning If God Is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise, a follow-up to his HBO documentary film When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, and the Peabody-winning A Huey P. Newton Story. Lee recently completed the second season of his Netflix Original Series She’s Gotta Have It, a contemporary update of his classic film. Lee is also known for his legendary Air Jordan TV commercials and marketing campaigns with Michael Jordan for Nike. In 1997, he launched the advertising agency Spike DDB, a fully integrated agency with a focus on trendsetter, cross-cultural, and millennial audiences. In addition to his films, TV series, and commercials, Lee has directed music videos and shorts for artists such as Michael Jackson, Prince, Public Enemy, Branford Marsalis, Bruce Hornsby, Miles Davis, and Anita Baker.
He is a graduate of Morehouse College and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where he is a tenured Professor of Film and Artistic Director. Lee’s Production Company 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks is based in Da Republic of Brooklyn, NY.
The annual gala began in 1972 when it honored Charlie Chaplin, who returned to the U.S. from exile to accept the commendation. Since then, the Chaplin Award has been presented to many of the film industry’s most notable talents, including Alfred Hitchcock, Billy Wilder, Laurence Olivier, Federico Fellini, Elizabeth Taylor, Bette Davis, James Stewart, Robert Altman, Martin Scorsese, Diane Keaton, Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Sidney Poitier, Barbra Streisand, Robert Redford, Morgan Freeman, Robert De Niro, and Helen Mirren.