Spike Lee is once again thinking outside of the box in his new film, Red Hook Summer. Financed by the director himself, the movie explores teenage life from an African-American standpoint. Lee’s film also sheds light on family and the African-American church in the community.
When asked about his motivation to create and finance the film, Lee said, “We didn’t begin thinking it would be a film about the black church. In conversations with different people like James McBride (author of The Color of Water), we were always talking about our teenage kids and what they were like and what they were doing. Then we’d talk about not seeing teenage kids like ours on the big screen. That’s where Red Hook came from and that’s why I was OK paying for it to make sure it was released.”
Although he enjoyed watching coming of age films that focus on struggles that adolescents must endure, Lee did not believe that such productions were good representations of the way that African-American teens like his son and daughter carry out everyday living. “Yes. I love those films by Rob Reiner about teenagers like Stand by Me. Those were great films about being teenagers, but there weren’t ever films about black teenagers like that and I asked myself why. I kept thinking where are those films that show black teenagers like my kids, James’s kids, and others’ kids who aren’t gangstas, thugs, or whatever” said Lee.
The director adds, “Kids that are just teenagers living life and not in trouble. With the exception of Jada and Will’s (Smith) kids, where do you see regular black kids like that in media? You don’t. But they do exist and so Red Hook is about a few of those kids. Then we had to add layers and that’s where the black church came into play.”
Spike Lee and wife Tonya are parents to daughter Satchel,17, and son Jackson,15.