There’s an interesting bit of speculation in a 4.5 Cineuropa piece by Fabien Lemercier about next month’s Cannes Film Festival (“A New Phase For Cannes?“). “Several names from North America continue to pop up rather insistently,” Lemercier writes. “Namely, Under the Silver Lake by David Robert Mitchell, Domino by Brian De Palma and” — wait for it — “Black Klansman by Spike Lee.”
This is the first spitball piece to mention Lee’s fact-based melodrama as a serious possibility…no?
Black Klansman is based on on Ron Stallworth’s 2014 novel, the full title of which is “Black Klansman: Race, Hate, and the Undercover Investigation of a Lifetime.”
Set in the late ’70s, pic isn’t literally about a black guy joining the Klan but an undercover investigation of the Klan by Stallworth when he was “the first black detective in the history of the Colorado Springs Police Department.”
After initial correspondence with the Klan, Stallworth received a call in which he was asked if he wants to “join our cause.” According to an Amazon summary, “Ron answers the caller’s question that night with a yes, launching what is surely one of the most audacious, and incredible undercover investigations in history. Ron recruits his partner Chuck to play the ‘white’ Ron Stallworth.”
In Lee’s film Stallworth is played by John David Washington. The “Chuck” character is apparently called “Flip,” and is played by Adam Driver. Laura Harrier and Topher Grace costar. Corey Hawkins plays Stokely Carmichael. Jordan Peele is listed as one of the film’s producers (along with Lee, Jason Blum, Raymond Mansfield, Sean McKittrick and Shaun Redick). The screenplay is by Lee, David Rabinowitz, Charlie Wachtel and Kevin Willmott. Other tidbits from Lemercier’s article: (a) Alfonso Cuaron‘s Roma “remains shrouded in considerable mystery”; (b) Bi Gan‘s Long Day’s Journey Into Night “has an immense buzz around it’; (c) Laszló Nemes‘ Sunset is “still in with a chance”; (d) Olivier Assayas‘ Non-Fiction “has not yet been viewed”; (e) “The latest movies by Xavier Dolan, Claire Denis, Barry Jenkins, Luca Guadagnino, Naomi Kawase and Jacques Audiard will allegedly not be taking part (although who knows?…one could still envisage the odd last-minute entry).”
Amazon capsule description of Ron Stallworth’s “Black Klansman”: “When detective Ron Stallworth, the first black detective in the history of the Colorado Springs Police Department, comes across a classified ad in the local paper asking for all those interested in joining the Ku Klux Klan to contact a P.O. box, Detective Stallworth does his job and responds with interest, using his real name while posing as a white man. He figures he’ll receive a few brochures in the mail, maybe even a magazine, and learn more about a growing terrorist threat in his community.
“A few weeks later the office phone rings, and the caller asks Ron a question he thought he’d never have to answer, “Would you like to join our cause?” This is 1978, and the KKK is on the rise in the United States. Its Grand Wizard, David Duke, has made a name for himself, appearing on talk shows, and major magazine interviews preaching a ‘kinder’ Klan that wants nothing more than to preserve a heritage, and to restore a nation to its former glory.
“Ron answers the caller’s question that night with a yes, launching what is surely one of the most audacious, and incredible undercover investigations in history. Ron recruits his partner Chuck to play the ‘white’ Ron Stallworth, while Stallworth himself conducts all subsequent phone conversations. During the months-long investigation, Stallworth sabotages cross burnings, exposes white supremacists in the military, and even befriends David Duke himself.
“‘Black Klansman’ is an amazing true story that reads like a crime thriller, and a searing portrait of a divided America and the extraordinary heroes who dare to fight back.”