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The Writers Guild of America East has named the latest recipient of its career achievement award: Spike Lee.
The Do the Right Thing and Da 5 Bloods filmmaker will receive the East Coast guild’s Ian McLellan Hunter Award at the 75th Annual Writers Guild Awards when their New York ceremony takes place at the Edison Ballroom on March 5. The award, established in 1992 in appreciation of the namesake British screenwriter (who wrote The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and famously put his name to the screenplay for Roman Holiday, which was actually co-penned by the then-blacklisted Dalton Trumbo), lauds a writer for the quality and breadth of their filmography. Nora Ephron, David Simon, John Waters and John Sayles have all been past recipients.
The award is generally given annually, but wasn’t bestowed in the past two years because the Writers Guild Awards went virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“For nearly forty years, Spike Lee has written and directed some of the most meaningful and creative films in cinema,” WGA East president Michael Winship said in a statement. “With a unique ability to challenge, entertain, and inform, his narratives spotlight the racism and bigotry that too often have defined the Black experience in America. Spike Lee is a moviemaker and storyteller greatly deserving to be honored with the WGA East’s Hunter Award for Career Achievement.”
Lee, whose prolific run of projects that he has both written and directed began with 1983’s Joe’s Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads, has penned screenplays for films including She’s Gotta Have It, Do the Right Thing, School Daze, Malcolm X, Red Hook Summer, Chi-Raq, BlacKkKlansman and Da 5 Bloods, all of which he also directed. He has been nominated for five Oscars and in 2019 won best adapted screenplay alongside Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmott for BlacKkKlansman. In 2015, he became the youngest person to receive an honorary Academy Award for career achievement. His first Writers Guild Award nomination came in 2019 with BlacKkKlansman.
The 75th Annual Writers Guild of America Awards will take place simultaneously on East and West Coasts on March 5 in Los Angeles and New York.
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Santa Barbara International Film Festival