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MAKING 'DO THE RIGHT THING'

USA, 1989 (MIFF 1990, Documentaries)

Director: St Clair Bourne

As the title suggests, St Clair Bourne's documentary is a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Spike Lee's acclaimed feature Do The Right Thing.

While 'making of...' movies invariably serve merely as promotional tools, often made by the same producers as the movie in subject, this documentary has greater ambitions. As well as interviews with the actors, scenes of the actors and director at work, incidents that took place when the cameras rolled, and so on, the documentary also takes to the local neighbourhood and notes the effects Lee's crew had on the predominantly black community of Bedford-Stuyvesant.

There is a sardonic moment when a woman recalls that when she saw the crew move in, she thought they were renovating dilapidated buildings for the homeless. As the crew pop the bottles of champagne to celebrate the end of filming Do The Right Thing, locals salvage wood from the sets while another woman ponders whether the film will make any difference to the neighbourhood. St Bourne also makes mention of Spike Lee's controversial hiring of members of the Flower of Islam, seen here clearing out crack houses, to provide security during shooting of the film.

What emerges through the documentary is St Clair Bourne's knowledge and understanding not only of the wider cultural and political issues surrounding Do The Right Thing, but Lee's entire career as a filmmaker.
- (PKa)

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