Spike Lee to be honored with BFI Fellowship

Multi-award-winning director Spike Lee will be honored with the BFI Fellowship. File Photo by David Silpa/UPI
Multi-award-winning director Spike Lee will be honored with the BFI Fellowship. File Photo by David Silpa/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 27 (UPI) -- BFI, the U.K.'s lead organization for film, TV and the moving image, is presenting Spike Lee with its highest honor -- an BFI Fellowship.

The honor will be presented to the award-winning writer, director, actor, producer and author at BFI Southbank, hosted by BFI chair Tim Richards and BFI chief exec Ben Roberts, on Feb. 13. The event will include a Q&A with Lee and a screening of his film, Summer of Sam.


"I'm blessed to live up to my ancestors credo 'DEEDS, NOT WORDS,'" Lee said. "I thank the BFI for helping me in continuing my generations of family legacy. Peace and love. YA-DIG? SHO-NUFF."


Lee was raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he founded his production company, 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks, after earning his MFA in Film Production at NYU/Tisch School of the Arts.

His first film, 1986's She's Gotta Have It, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and won the Prix de la Jeunesse Award. Lee was nominated for an Academy Award for his next film, 1989's Do The Right Thing, which, along with 1991's Jungle Fever, screened in competition at Cannes.

Lee won an honorary Oscar in 2015 for lifetime achievement. He returned to Cannes in 2018 with his film, BlackKkKlansman, which won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay and a BAFTA for Best Adapted Screenplay.

The prolific director, whose career includes true crime films, musicals, several comedies, a heist movie, documentaries, true crime films, a concert film, music videos, a TV series and more, was honored with the 34th American Cinematheque Award, which is given to filmmakers and actors who have made important contributions to the film industry, in 2020.

He was named president of the jury at the 74th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in 2021. Also that year, Lee, who had collaborated with Netflix on four projects -- Da 5 Bloods, She's Gotta Have It the series, Rodney King and See You Yesterday -- signed a multiyear film deal with the streaming giant.


While Lee is in the U.K., he will visit teams at the BFI National Archive, who have worked with him on a 35mm print of 1992's Malcolm X, which will premiere at the BFI's inaugural Film on Film Festival in June. The 65-year-old will also take a masterclass with young filmmakers.

"I am honored and excited to be awarding Spike Lee the prestigious BFI Fellowship," said Richards, BFI chair. "Lee has such a distinctive voice as an auteur, unafraid to challenge ideas of race, gender and class throughout his career with his unique cinematic style. A true renaissance man and pioneer, he has excelled in so many art forms, staying original, fresh and as relevant to contemporary audiences as those who have enjoyed his work for over 30 years."

Other BFI fellows include Barbara Broccoli, Tilda Swinton, Martin Scorcese, Sir Steven McQueen, Sir Michael Caine, Orson Welles and many more.

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