Inveterate New Yorker Spike Lee recalled the 9/11 terror attacks 22 years after the tragedy took place in a TIFF on-stage conversation on Monday (September 11).
“You can make the case that the world has changed since that day,” said Lee,” appearing on stage in a Visionaries session with TIFF CEO Cameron Bailey after showing the audience an episode of his 2021 HBO mini-series NYC Epicenters 9/11-2021 1/2.
“I wasn’t there,” said Lee of the day of the attacks on multiple sites including the World Trade Centre in New York. He was in Los Angeles, talking to Arnold Schwarzenegger, about the role of Joe Louis in the boxing drama Save us, Joe Louis which he wrote with Oscar-winning Budd Schulberg (On the Warterfront), but never made. “When this happened, I knew I wanted
to make a tribute
to the people who are no longer here. The brave NYFD, NYPD EMS, everyone, regular citizens,” said the filmmaker. “The goal was to speak to as many people as possible, not just the firemen.” “You’re either in or out.” None of this dipping your toe.”
Asked about his love of music and how he uses it in film the director reminded that he shot the Michael Jackson documentary
Bad 25 and numerous music videos with Jackson and other artists, adding in a theatrical aside: “I wanted to do Thriller but never got the call.”Lee continued, “Music is so much a part of what I do; documentary or feature, music is key. There are some filmmakers where the picture is locked then they decide to get a composer.
“That shit is ass backwards,” he said, getting more laughs. “My composers get the scripts at the same time as the actors, cinematographers, production designers, and cinematographers. It’s not going to
Billboard magazine and seeing what the 10 hot songs are. Music is not the best way to use it for me. Music is just for me; t’s just as important as the acting, cinematography.”The filmmaker invited unsigned artists via Instagram to submit work for the 2017-19 Netflix series adaptation of his 1986 breakout
She’s Gotta HaveIt . “The talent exists and technology has made it easier to connect.” Lee received the TIFF Ebert Award for Director at Sunday night’s TIFF tribute awards. His most recent film at the festival, David byrne’s American Utopia
was in 2020.