Entertainment

After More Than 70 Years, The Cannes Film Festival Will Finally Have A Black President And It’s Going To Be Spike Lee

Spike Lee is returning to the 73rd Cannes Film Festival a couple of years after BlacKkKlansman debuted there, this time as the jury president. In over seven decades, the prestigious film festival has never had a black president overseeing the artists who decide which films will win an award. 

“In this life I have lived, my biggest blessings have been when they arrived unexpected, when they happened out of nowhere. When I got the call that I was offered the opportunity to be president of Cannes jury for 2020, I was shocked, happy, surprised and proud all at the same time,” Lee said in a statement.

The 62-year-old director won Cannes’ Grand Prix for BlacKkKlansman which also earned Lee his first Academy Award. Prior to his recent release, Lee hadn’t participated in Cannes in 22 years despite having seven of his most beloved films like, She’s Gotta Have ItDo The Right Thing and Summer Of Sam, playing there. 

Lee releases a heartfelt statement about becoming the jury president.

Lee said this particular film festival is the most important in the world and that it significantly impacted his career.

“It started way back in 1986 – my first feature film She’s Gotta Have It, which won the Prix de la Jeunesse in the Director’s Fortnight. The next joint was in 1989 – Do The Right Thing, an Official Selection in Competition. And I don’t have the time nor space to write about the cinematic explosion that jumped off, still relative to this, 30 years later,” Lee said in a statement. 

Do The Right Thing might be Lee’s most well-known project. The film which uses building racial tensions in a Brooklyn neighborhood as an exploration of violence as activism was solidified as a part of history when it was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry and Libray of Congress. 

“Then Jungle Fever 1991 – Official Selection in Competition, Girl 6 1996 – Official Selection out of Competition, Summer Of Sam1999 – Director’s Fortnight, Ten Minutes Older 2002 – Official Selection in Un Certain Regard and then BlacKkKlansman 2018 – Official Selection in Competition where it won the Grand Prix, which became the launching pad for the world theatrical release which led to my Academy Award for screenplay,” he continued. 

Many have felt that Lee has not gotten the respect he deserves as a filmmaker — at least not until fairly recently.

Despite being nominated four times across three decades, Lee wasn’t awarded an Academy Award until 2019 for Best Adapted Screenplay. 

“Spike Lee’s perspective is more valuable than ever. Cannes is a natural homeland and a global sounding board for those who (re)awaken minds and question our stances and fixed ideas. Lee’s flamboyant personality is sure to shake things up. What kind of president of the jury will he be? Find out in Cannes!” Cannes President Pierre Lescure and festival head Thierry Frémaux said in a statement.

In the New York Times profile leading up to his Oscar win, the paper examined the ways in which Lee has been relegated to the fringes of prestigious filmmaking: throughout his career, he has earned less money and received less funding than his white counterparts, and has had difficulty getting projects off the ground. 

Lee’s inclusion might be Cannes’ first big step in correcting its diversity issues.

“That’s the dilemma of a talented black artist in any field,” collaborator and author James McBride told the NY Times. “You have to recreate the genre, otherwise you don’t survive. Stevie Wonder is not a pop musician; Stevie Wonder is a genre. Michael Jackson is a genre to himself. Spike Lee has moved into that territory. Spike Lee is not short on talent. What Spike Lee is short on is friends in the industry, and the kind of space to fail. He has no room to fail.” 

While Cannes has struggled with diversity around black and women directors, Lee as a jury president could be a healthy step in allowing other perspectives in. 

“I’m honored to be the first person of the African diaspora (USA) to be named president of the Cannes jury and of a main film festival. The Lee family sincerely thanks the Festival de Cannes, Pierre Lescure and Thierry Frémaux and the great people of France who have supported my film career throughout four decades. I will always treasure this special relationship,” Lee said.

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Latino Man Whose Wife Died In Atlanta Spa Was Handcuffed, ‘Treated Like A Suspect’

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Latino Man Whose Wife Died In Atlanta Spa Was Handcuffed, ‘Treated Like A Suspect’

Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

As we continue to learn more about the attack on Atlanta’s Asian-American community that left eight dead, we also are learning about Mario González – a survivor of the attack who was treated like a suspect by the Cherokee Sheriff Department.

Despite having lost his wife in the gunfire, police refused to share that news with González as he was handcuffed for hours amid the chaotic scene that was unfolding in the Atlanta suburbs.

A survivor of the Atlanta spa attacks says he was treated like a suspect instead of a victim.

The Latino man and husband who survived the Atlanta spa shootings that killed his wife says cops treated him like a suspect instead of a grieving victim — keeping him handcuffed for hours without telling him his spouse was dead.

“They had me at the police station for all that time until they investigated who was responsible or what had happened,” Mario González said during an interview with the Spanish-language news site Mundo Hispanico. “In the end, they told me my wife had died.

“They knew I was her husband,” Gonzalez said. “Then they told me she was dead when I wanted to know before. I don’t know, maybe because I’m Mexican,” he said. “Because the truth is that they treated me very badly.”

Law enforcement hasn’t responded to the allegations but are already facing severe backlash.

Representatives for the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment on Sunday, but the accusations leveled by Mr. González come after the agency had already faced scrutiny after a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office described the gunman as having “a really bad day.”

The spokesman, Capt. Jay Baker, was no longer the office’s public representative on the case, and the sheriff, Frank Reynolds, apologized and defended Captain Baker as not intending to disrespect the victims or their families. “We regret any heartache Captain Baker’s words may have caused,” Sheriff Reynolds said.

González and his wife had been on a date night when the massacre took place.

The couple had arrived to Young’s Asian Massage for a fun date night, where they’d both enjoy a relaxing massage. They arrived shortly before the shooting started, Mr. González said in the video interview, and they were ushered into separate rooms for their massages.

Mr. González had met Ms. Yaun at a Waffle House restaurant, where he was a customer and she was a server. Ms. Yaun had been a single mother, raising a 13-year-old son. The couple married last year and had a daughter, who is now 8 months old. “What I need most right now is support,” Mr. González said in the interview.

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Racist Officers in Florida Filed a False Report Against a Latino Man After Assaulting Him

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Racist Officers in Florida Filed a False Report Against a Latino Man After Assaulting Him

Credit: Lake Wales Police Department

While deaths at the hands of police officers have fallen since the racial reckoning of last summer, there is still a long way to go. All it takes is a few bad apple police officers to erode trust between communities and law enforcement. Take, for example, a recent incident in Lake Wales, Fla. Two racist officers assaulted a Latino man named Chris Cordero before filing false charges against him.

According to local reports, two racist officers lied on their police report when they accused Chris Cordero of attacking them.

The story is truly shocking. According to Chris Cordero, 37, the entire incident with the racist officers began when he was driving home from Publix with medicine for his young son. Cordero became wary when he noticed a police cruiser was following him for a long time. So Cordero stopped to ask the police officer what was going on.

“I get out of the vehicle to ask him what’s going on because he’s been following me for a while,” Cordero told WFTS Tampa Bay. And here is where Cordero’s story and the police officer’s story differ.

Cordero told reporters that Officer Colt Black “requested that I go to the back of my car and put my hands on the trunk. Because he wants to search me to see if I have a weapon.”

It was then, Cordero says, that Officer Black “sucker punched” him on the back of the head.

“He sucker-punched me from the back, right here, cracked a piece of my tooth out. I landed on the ground,” Cordero said. Cordero says that it was then that a second officer, Officer Travis Worley, arrived. The two men began to assault him while he was on the ground, handcuffed.

“They both jumped on me and beat me up really bad,” Cordero said. Cordero also alleges that Officer Worley called him a “spic n—-r”, “a piece of sh-t” and told him to “go back to New York.”

The police report told a very different story. The cops alleged that “Cordero immediately exited the driver door and began to charge towards my patrol vehicle.”

Officer Colt Black said he “delivered an elbow strike to the left side of Cordero’s head” thinking Cordero was “reaching for a weapon.”

They charged Cordero with resisting arrest, assault on a law enforcement officer and making a death threat to a law enforcement officer. The charges could’ve landed Cordero in jail for years.

As soon as Cordero was released on bail, he revisited the neighborhood and went door-to-door hoping to find home surveillance footage of the incident. Luckily, he found some.

The footage clearly showed Cordero waiting by his car for around 30 seconds before Officer Black approached him and assaulted him. Cordero submitted the footage to the police. Officer Black claimed he wrote the false report because his “perception was altered due to the high stress of the incident.”

The State’s Attorney’s Office, immediately dropped the charges against Cordero. The Lake Wells attorney revealed that this wasn’t the first time members of the community complained about these particular officers.

“These officers who have issues with power and control target people who they know won’t be believed,” she said.

Since the footage came to light, the racist officers have been reprimanded. Officer Colt Black resigned. Officer Travis Worley is on administrative leave.

The two racist officers have a history of complaints against them. Members of the community have accused them of blatant racism and excessive force.

A Black female officer claimed Officer Worley used a racial slur while on a call–a claim he denied. He later tried to have the woman fired, saying “the longer she is allowed to continue working here, the more of a chance she will have to harm good officers and their families.”

Another complaint was filed by a local high school principal, who heard Officer Worley use a racial slur in front of students. “Quite simply,” the principal wrote, “he is not the same caliber as the other officers I know are–not even close.”

Despite the multiple complaints and investigations surrounding him, the police department always cleared Officer Worley of wrongdoing. He was even named “Officer of the Year” in 2019.

Chris Cordero hopes this incident with the racist officers prompts the city to make body cameras mandatory on police officers.

“How many more innocent people are sitting in jail?” he asked WFTS News. “How many people in the community are scared to come forward about these officers?”

“All police are not trying to intimidate people. That’s not the case,” said Lake Wales City Commissioner Terrye Howell. “But when you have one or two bad apples, then they’re spilling that bad apple part to other officers, then that bunch starts growing.”

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