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Lee, the director behind Do the Right Thing (1989), Malcolm X (1992) and the thriller Inside Man (2006), made headlines before Christmas when he said he would boycott Tarantino’s Django Unchained because it was “disrespectful” to black people.
“American slavery was not a Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western,” Lee wrote on Twitter. “It was a holocaust.”
Later, in an interview, Lee declined to elaborate, except to say he had no intention of seeing the film: “I can’t speak on it ‘cause I’m not going to see it,” he said.
It is not the first time Lee criticized Tarantino for racial insensitivity: after the release of Tarantino’s 1997 blacksploitation tribute Jackie Brown, Lee blasted Tarantino for what he said was an overuse of “the n-word,” saying, “I think there is something wrong with him.”
But Antoine Fuqua, the director behind Training Day who says he knows both Tarantino and Lee but is not close friends with either one, said Lee aired his concerns in wrong way.
“That’s just not the way you do things,” said Fuqua, speaking on the sidelines of the 17th Capri, Hollywood Film Festival. “If you disagree with the way a colleague did something, call him up, invite him out for a coffee, talk about it. But don’t do it publicly.”
Fuqua — at the Capri festival as part of a big Hollywood contingent that also includes Leaving Las Vegas director Mike Figgis, 300 star Gerard Butler, Iceman director Ariel Vromen and Franco Nero, the star of the original Django film that inspired Tarantino’s latest — also defended Tarantino.
“I don’t think Quentin Tarantino has a racist bone in his body,” he said. “Besides, I’m good friends with [Django Unchained star] Jamie Foxx and he wouldn’t have anything to do with a film that had anything racist to it.”
Fuqua continued: “I haven’t seen the film, so I can’t speak about it specifically, but we’re supposed to find some truth in films and if you set a film in the 1850s, you’re going to hear the word ‘nigger,’ because that’s the way they spoke then, and you’re going to discuss slavery because that was part of the reality,” he said.
“I want my kids to hear those kinds of words in the right context, so that they’ll know that language is not OK,” Fuqua said.
The Capri, Hollywood fest, which takes place on the picturesque island off the coast of Naples, got under way Dec. 26 and will conclude Wednesday.
Sunday’s program at the festival included a screening of Fuqua’s Training Day — which earned Denzel Washington an Oscar for best actor — as well as the first glimpse, the trailer, for Fuqua’s soon-to-be-released thriller Olympus Has Fallen. The day’s centerpiece screening was the Italian premiere of David O. Russell‘s dramedy Silver Linings Playbook.
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