Filmmaker Spike Lee tells international press at Cannes Film Festival to cover attacks on activists in Georgia

Spike Lee, jury members and filmmakers at a Cannes Film Fesstival press event this week. Photo via, 07 Jul 2021 - 18:09, Tbilisi,Georgia

Academy Award- and BAFTA-winning American filmmaker Spike Lee responded to a question at a Cannes Film Festival press conference about violent attacks on reporters and a queer event in Tbilisi this week by urging journalists to cover the developments.

Lee, known for his works in cinema around political subjects, civil rights and racial issues, said in response to a question from a Georgian journalist he had not been aware of the developments but added it was "on the journalists here to spread the word".

The press event, involving juries of the festival Maggie Gyllenhaal and Tahir Rahim, as well as director Kleber Mendonça Filho, alongside Lee, heard the impassioned question from Anano Bakuradze, journalist and co-founder of digital storytelling media platform Movement.

Bakuradze prefaced her words by noting her question was not about the filmmaking work of the panel, before informing them about the incidents on Monday in Tbilisi, where right-wing groups attacked reporters dispatched to cover an upcoming Tbilisi Pride queer march in the city, before also storming the offices of the organisers of the event.

Thank you for sharing that with the world press. Now it’s on the journalists here to spread the word. You heard it. Do your research. You can go write. It’s not criticising movies. You can [critique] world gangsters too

- Spike Lee, film director

In his response Lee admitted he had not been aware of the incidents, but recognised the effects of conservative right-wing political governments on activism and human rights. The American director thanked the Georgian journalist "for sharing that with the world press" and urged the latter to take up a coverage of the events.

Another response came from Gyllenhaal, who also recognised she wasn't "equipped to give any kind of advice on activism to a Georgian activist and journalist" but adding she would look into the news about events in Georgia in the subsequent days and would welcome an opportunity to speak again on the matter afterwards.

Cannes Film Festival opened on Tuesday and is set to run through July 17. The famed French cinema event will involve a screening of Georgian filmmaker Tengiz Abuladze's 1984 feature Repentance in the Cannes Classics section.