Spike Lee to Receive Film at Lincoln Center's Chaplin Award

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Spike Lee

The Oscar winner is the latest recipient of the honor that's previously been given to Martin Scorsese, Sidney Poitier, Robert Redford, Morgan Freeman and Robert De Niro, among others.

Spike Lee will be honored with the 2020 Chaplin Award, it was announced today.

The Oscar-winning filmmaker will be celebrated at a star-studded New York City gala, presented by Film at Lincoln Center, on April 27.

"We are delighted to honor Spike Lee, an original and iconic New York filmmaker," Film at Lincoln Center's board chairwoman Ann Tenenbaum said in a statement. "It is thrilling to welcome his bold voice into the pantheon of artists who have received the Chaplin Award."

Lee's credits include She's Gotta Have It, School Daze, Do the Right Thing, Mo' Better Blues, Jungle Fever, Malcolm X, Crooklyn, Clockers, Girl 6, Get on the Bus, He Got Game, Summer of Sam, Bamboozled, 25th Hour, She Hate Me, Inside Man, Miracle at St. Anna, Red Hook Summer, Oldboy, Chi-Raq and BlacKkKlansman, which won Lee his first Oscar, for best adapted screenplay. The acclaimed director had previously received an honorary Oscar in 2015 for his lifetime achievement and contributions to motion picture arts and sciences. Prior to that he was a two-time Oscar nominee for Do the Right Thing and his documentary 4 Little Girls.

"It's hard to conceive of the New York film community without Spike Lee," FLC executive director Lesli Klainberg said in a statement. "For four decades he has been making challenging films that speak to our vibrant city and to the larger world, and his work remains as vital as ever. We feel lucky to have had a special relationship with Lee at Film at Lincoln Center, showing his very first film at the 1983 New Directors/New Films festival, and welcoming his films to our theaters in the years since. Just last year, coinciding with his appearance on the cover of Film Comment, Lee presented BlacKkKlansman to a sold-out crowd in our Walter Reade Theater. We are honored to pay tribute to this great artist and true cinephile."

Film at Lincoln Center will present a select retrospective of Lee's films alongside the gala, which is the organization's most important fundraising event of the year.

"Few filmmakers have amassed a body of work as consistently vital, moving, provocative and uncompromising as that of Spike Lee," FLC director of programming Dennis Lim said in a statement. "From his 1983 student film Joe's Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads to last year's BlacKkKlansman, his films spare no quarter in capturing American society and the state of race relations. They compel us to look at our country, its culture and its history anew."

Lee joins previous Chaplin honorees Alfred Hitchcock, Billy Wilder, Laurence Olivier, Federico Fellini, Elizabeth Taylor, Bette Davis, James Stewart, Robert Altman, Martin Scorsese, Diane Keaton, Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Sidney Poitier, Barbra Streisand, Robert Redford, Morgan Freeman, Robert De Niro, Helen Mirren and Charlie Chaplin himself, who returned to the U.S. in 1972 to accept the first award.