Spike Lee to receive lifetime achievement honor at DGA Awards

Lee becomes only the 36th director to receive this honor in the 86-year-history of the DGA.

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The Directors Guild of America (DGA) have announced that Spike Lee will be honored with a Lifetime Achievement award at the 2022 DGA Awards. The DGA’s President Lesli Linka Glatter stated on Wednesday that the Brooklyn-born filmmaker will receive the award for his distinguished achievement in motion picture direction.

“Icon. Trailblazer. Visionary. Spike Lee has changed the face of cinema, and there is no single word that encapsulates his significance to the craft of directing,” Glatter said in a statement.

“From his groundbreaking Do the Right Thing, BlacKkKlansman, and everything in-between to his signature ‘double dolly’ shot, Spike is an innovator on so many levels. His bold and passionate storytelling over the past three decades has masterfully entertained, as it held a stark mirror to our society and culture.”

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Spike Lee attends The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures Opening Gala at The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures on September 25, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Lee began distinguishing himself as a singular director with his iconic independent 1986 film, She’s Gotta Have It. From there, the Academy Award winner brought his unique eye, skill, and sense of storytelling to the history of American cinema.

Films like School Daze, his 1989 Oscar-nominated breakthrough film, Do The Right Thing, Mo Betta Blues, and Jungle Fever, all captured Lee’s idiosyncratic ability to call out the social inequity of Black Americans, while also displaying a mastery of developing memorable and dynamic characters.

Lee’s dedication to using his platform to expose social issues, both directly and indirectly, in films like He Got Game, Get On The Bus, and Bamboozled, led the DGA to honor him back in 2002 for his distinguished contributions to our nation’s culture in support of filmmaking. 

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Spike Lee, winner of Adapted Screenplay for ”BlacKkKlansman,’ attends the 91st Annual Academy Awards Governors Ball at Hollywood and Highland on February 24, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

His 1992 biopic, Malcolm X, as well as his 2006 suspense drama Inside Man, illustrated that while he was able to pull off an epic film with large scope and distribution, he never lost his independent spirit.

Glatter continued by saying that although Lee “is no stranger to huge commercial success, he is also the beating heart of the independent film. Even as countless filmmakers call Spike their mentor and inspiration, he continues to devote his time to teaching future generations how to make their mark. We are thrilled to present Spike with the DGA’s highest honor.”

Lee becomes only the 36th and the first Black recipient of The DGA’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Distinguished Achievement in Motion Picture Direction in the organization’s 86 year history.

The most recent honoree was Ridley Scott in 2017. Past winners also include Alfred Hitchcock (1968), Orson Welles (1984), Steven Spielberg (2000), Martin Scorsese (2003), and Miloš Forman (2013).

Lee will receive his honor at the 74th annual DGA Awards, taking place on Saturday, March 12.

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