After sharing his new film BlacKkKlansman on Monday night, acclaimed film director Spike Lee railed against Trump at the Cannes Film Festival. The movie centers on the true story of a black police officer who managed to crack open a branch of the KKK, and uses footage from the deadly Charlottesville, Virginia, rally that took place last August.
When discussing his decision to use the footage from the protest at the end of the film, Lee spoke for approximately five minutes, and took the opportunity to tear into President Trump's response to the deadly white nationalist event, where one woman, Heather Heyer, was killed.
"And we have a guy in the White House — I’m not gonna say his f*cking name — who defined that moment not just for Americans but the world, and that motherf*cker was given the chance to say we are about love, not hate," Lee said in a transcript published by Vulture. "And that motherf*cker did not denounce the motherf*cking Klan, the alt-right, and those Nazis motherf*ckers. It was a defining moment, and he could have said to the world, not just the United States, that we were better than that."
Lee went on to describe why he believed that the "so-called American cradle of democracy" was a false narrative. "The United States of America was built on the genocide of native people and slavery," Lee said. "That is the fabric of the United States of America."
Lee also pointed out that an increased rise in far-right politicians is not isolated to the United States, but is, in fact, happening around the world. "We can’t be silent," Lee said. "It’s not a black, white, or brown [problem], it’s everybody. We all live on this planet, and this guy in the White House has the nuclear code."
The director and producer also lamented the fact that, though political conflicts can feel intangible, the reality of the situation is that the president of the United States holds the nuclear codes. It is not impossible for him to make decisions that could result in tremendously serious violence.
"I go to bed thinking about it. I’ve seen the 'football,' that attache case," Lee said, referencing what is sometimes called the "nuclear football," which allows the president to authorize a nuclear attack while away from brick and mortar command centers. "My wife and I gave a benefit for President Obama in the second term, and I saw the attache case in the car. That is not science fiction, that sh*t is real. And that motherf*cker has the nuclear code!"
Lee plans to release the film on Aug. 10, marking the one-year anniversary of the Charlottesville rally. After the Cannes viewing, Lee and his film received a 10-minute long standing ovation, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
He further described his film as "a wakeup call."
"Stuff is happening," he said, "And it’s topsy-turvy and the fake has been trumpeted as the truth. That’s what this film is about. I know my heart, I don’t care what the critics say or anybody else, but we are on the right side of history with this film."
After the Charlottesville rally, Trump infamously attributed the violence to both sides — the neo-Nazis as well as the counterprotesters. "I think there is blame on both sides," Trump said. "You had a group on one side that was bad. You had a group on the other side that was also very violent. Nobody wants to say that. I’ll say it right now." His comments resulted in members of his own political party demanding an apology, as well as outraged opponents from the other side of the aisle.