Spike Lee gets critical in Cannes

Also lets slip Michael Jordan docu

CANNES -- Spike Lee is in Cannes to promote his Italy-set war film "Miracle at St. Anna," but he couldn't resist taking a few swipes at some fellow directors, including Joel and Ethan Coen and Clint Eastwood.

Speaking about death in his World War II period drama, Lee said that, unlike the Coens, he was respectful in the way he portrayed death.

"I always treat life and death with respect, but most people don't," Lee said at a press briefing. "Look, I love the Coen brothers; we all studied at NYU. But they treat life like a joke. Ha ha ha. A joke. It's like, 'Look how they killed that guy! Look how blood squirts out the side of his head!' I see things different than that."

Speaking about the casting for his tale of four black American soldiers in Tuscany during World War II, Lee said that black actors appear in war films too infrequently.

"Clint Eastwood made two films about Iwo Jima that ran for more than four hours total and there was not one Negro actor on the screen," Lee told reporters. "If you reporters had any balls you'd ask him why. There's no way I know why he did that -- that was his vision, not mine. But I know it was pointed out to him and that he could have changed it. It's not like he didn't know."

Lee said that his film is in the final stages of post-production and will be complete by the end of July, with an Oct. 10 release date likely -- exactly one year after shooting started. The film's score and about 10 weeks of mixing remain before completion. He said the film is likely to premiere at a festival: either Venice or Toronto.

Lee also told the Hollywood Reporter he is starting work on an as-yet-unnamed documentary about basketball great Michael Jordan, set for release in early 2009. Lee and Jordan starred in a series of award-winning ad spots for sporting goods company Nike in the late 1980s and early 1990s.