Spike Lee is gearing up for the limited theatrical release of his controversial film Red Hook Summer. The film centers on a teenager Flik Royale from Atlanta who is sent to stay with his very religious grandfather in Brooklyn’s Red Hook projects. Red Hook Summer is the latest installment of Lee’s chronicles of Brooklyn that have spanned his career, including Crooklyn and Do the Right Thing. The film includes one of Do the Right Thing’s main characters, pizza delivery man Mookie, but Lee insists Red Hook Summer isn’t a sequel.
This film is also Lee’s first self-funded film since 1986’s She’s Gotta Have It and Lee definitely likes having the control that isn’t typically found in studios. During a press conference for the film at the Sundance Film Festival, he was blunt about his views. “They [studios] know nothing about black people,” said Lee.
“And they’re going to give me notes about what a 13-year-old boy and girl are doing in Red Hook? [Shoot] no.”
Lee, also a film teacher at NYU, used his students as his crew and they weren’t just cheap labor. “It’s a learning process for my students,” said Lee to San Francisco Weekly. “They’ve never been on a feature film set before, and a lot of them make mistakes which cost me money, but they gotta learn. I know that this experience is going to be invaluable for them in their future as filmmakers.”
Flik’s experience of being away from home is something that is familiar to Lee. “For many years of my youth, not just me but my siblings also, we’d spend half of the summer in Atlanta with my mother’s parents, and the other half with my father’s mother in Snow Hill, Ala.,” said Lee. “Every Sunday down south, we had to go to church.”
The film is set to be released on August 10th in 30 theaters across the country.