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New York Times / Life - Entertain

Spike Lee Lashes Out at Trump as New Film Premieres at Cannes

The director said the president has exacerbated racial tensions at a news conference at the film festival.

CANNES, France — The filmmaker Spike Lee railed against President Donald J. Trump at the Cannes Film Festival on Tuesday, using a volley of expletives to accuse him of exacerbating racial tensions. He spoke at the news conference for his movie “BlacKkKlansman,” which had its world premiere on Monday.

Based on the true story of an African-American police officer who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s, “BlacKkKlansman” ends with images of the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., last August, where the 32-year-old counterprotester Heather D. Heyer was killed. This sequence is included in the movie even though the Charlottesville episode happened after the director had finished shooting.

In opening remarks packed with expletives, Mr. Lee told reporters that after the killing in Charlottesville, Mr. Trump “was given a chance to say we are about love and not hate.” He could have told the world that “we were better than that,” Mr. Lee added.

Instead, Mr. Lee said, the president did nothing to denounce the alt-right movement and far-right groups.

“This film to me is a wake-up call,” he added. “Stuff is happening, and it’s topsy-turvy, and fake has been trumpeted as the truth.”

The night before, Mr. Lee got a standing ovation after the world premiere of his film, which is in the competition for the main prize, the Palme d’Or. Early reviews were favorable, with Variety describing it as “a major comeback” for Mr. Lee.

On the way into the screening, one of this year’s Cannes jury members, the actress Kristen Stewart, made headlines in her own right: She removed her high-heeled stilettoes and walked barefoot up the red carpet.

It was in an apparent response to a 2015 report about a woman who was turned away from a red-carpet screening for wearing flats.

The report was widely publicized and held up as an example of the festival’s outmoded way of operating.

The festival press office said on Tuesday that there was no requirement for women to wear heels at its black-tie red-carpet premieres, and that the dress code was black tie and evening wear.

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