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Academy Award winning Spike Lee honoured with BFI fellowship

Feb 16, 2023

Presented by Clive Owen at BFI Southbank

The BFI has celebrated director, writer, actor, producer, author, and NYU Grad Film tenured professor Spike Lee with a BFI Fellowship, the highest honour bestowed by the BFI. The BFI Fellowship was presented by actor, and star of Lee’s Inside Man, Clive Owen at BFI Southbank, hosted by BFI chair Tim Richards and BFI chief exec Ben Roberts, following an in-depth on stage career conversation with fashion designer Ozwald Boateng.

Spike Lee’s collaborators offered their congratulations with contributions from actors Samuel L. Jackson, Edward Norton, Halle Berry, DeWanda Wise, and longtime collaborators cinematographer Ernest R. Dickerson and costume designer Ruth E. Carter. Joining the celebrations were BFI Governor and filmmaker Edgar Wrightand filmmaker Asif Kapadia.

(L to R) Chair of the BFI Tim Richards, Spike Lee and CEO of the BFI Ben Roberts attend as The BFI Fellowship is awarded to Spike Lee at BFI Southbank on February 13, 2023 in London, England.
Photo by Dave Benett

Spike Lee said: “I’ve been coming to England since 1986 for She’s Gotta Have It, I have nothing but good memories of being here in London and I’m honoured to join the great list of BFI Fellows and filmmakers. We all have something in common, we love cinema and this history keeps it going through tough times, rough times, and I appreciate the invite which acknowledges this great artform of cinema.”

Clive Owen said: “I think it’s very hard for someone under a certain age to comprehend the impact of Spike’s early work. His early films introduced people into a world that hadn’t been seen in the cinema before, they were groundbreaking. Along comes this guy who was making films about the world that he knew. Fearless, unapologetic, with bags of attitude, humour and intelligence. He scared people, he was a true trailblazer.

This is a director that will be held not only as one of the most important filmmakers of his generation…the few influential directors who really push things forward and force things to change… Times change, but it’s people who make those changes.

This is a director who has stuck his head above the parapet time and time again, a phenomenal filmmaker whose sense of integrity means he has become a hugely important, radical voice of our time. No-one is more deserving of this award, it gives me the greatest pleasure to award the BFI Fellowship to the one, the only Spike Lee.”

Tim Richards, BFI chair, said “I am honoured and excited to be awarding Spike Lee the prestigious BFI Fellowship. 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 thirty years. I am delighted to be celebrating his enormous talent and individuality with a BFI Fellowship.”

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