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Spike Lee coming to IU for ArtsWeek program

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Special to the Recorder

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Award-winning film director Spike Lee, among the best-known filmmakers today, will appear at IU Auditorium on Feb. 26, as the signature event of the 27th annual ArtsWeek.

Earlier in the day, Lee also will spend time in conversation with Bloomington-area middle and high school students at the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center.

Lee’s talk will tie in to the theme of ArtsWeek 2011, “ArtsTeach.”

The creator of numerous films, including “Do the Right Thing,” “She’s Gotta Have It” and “Malcolm X,” Lee’s life is a prime example of the power of an arts education. Lee credits his mother, a teacher (who died when he was 19), and especially his art-teacher grandmother, for giving him the drive to become the filmmaker he is today.

Lee was barely making it in college when he received a Super 8 camera as a gift. He discovered a love of film and went on to receive a master of fine arts degree from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts (his grandmother helped him pay for the program). Today, in addition to his many other activities, Lee serves as artistic director of the graduate film program at the Tisch School.

Lee’s most recent project is the four-hour, two-part documentary “If God Is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise,” which debuted in 2010 on HBO. The film, about the recent Super Bowl-highs and British Petroleum-lows of New Orleans, is a follow-up to Lee’s Emmy Award-winning 2006 documentary “When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts” about the impact of Hurricane Katrina.

Twenty years ago, Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing” brought serious issues in the African-American community to light and established Lee as a major director in American cinema.

Lee is also a creator of children’s books with his wife, Tonya Lewis Lee. Their latest book for children, Giant Steps to Change the World, encourages children with the words and deeds of figures such as Jesse Owens, Mother Teresa and Barack Obama. In a recent interview on the “Today” show regarding the book, Lee said, “Inspiration comes from everywhere … We all have gifts, we just have to cultivate those gifts and be given opportunities to use those gifts in this world.”

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