Thu | Jan 18, 2018

Challenges of film-making revealed with Malcolm X screening

Published:Sunday | May 28, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Denzel Washington plays Malcolm X.
Denzel Washington as Malcolm X in Spike Lee's 'Malcolm X'.

From conceiving the idea, to writing a script, to funding, to casting, to filming, to eventually promoting, the process of filmmaking has always been one that carries a certain amount of risk. The writer, producer, and director have to have a clear vision that not only takes them through to completion, but allows others to collaborate with them on the way.

A famous case of keeping artistic integrity when producing a movie is Spike Lee's epic Malcolm X, a sweeping three-hour opus featuring a career-best performance from Denzel Washington. The film was beset with problems, with rewrites and funding, resulting in Lee forfeiting $2 million of his director salary and asking famous friends to financially contribute in order to complete the film he wanted to make.

"As a result [of the additional funding from celebrity friends], this film will be my version. Not the bond company's version, not Warner Brothers'. I will do the film the way it ought to be, and it will be over three hours." said Lee.

As a result, events company We Are Parable are hosting a special screening of Malcolm X, in 35mm, on Sunday, May 28 at PictureHouse Central at 1:30 p.m.

This will be the third event in the "Spike is 60" film festival, a year-long season of films selected to celebrate Lee as he turns 60 in 2017. This screening, as well as the overall film festival, has been supported by Film Hub London, BFI Film Audience Network, and Film London.


Discussion and screening


The screening will be followed by a special panel discussion, hosted by Akua Gyamfi, founder of The British Blacklist, which will discuss not only the many themes raised in the film, but, primarily, the challenges that happen behind the screen. The panelists will be announced in the coming weeks.

Co-founder Anthony Andrews believes that showing Malcolm X on the big screen is a way of enabling those who are fans of Lee to reconnect.

"We wanted to create an opportunity to watch this incredible film in the way it was intended. The fact that it's going to be shown on 35mm is extremely exciting. I've only ever watched Malcolm X in my home, so to be in an immersive environment with 300 people - it's mind blowing," he said.

In the 25 years since Malcolm X was released, crowdfunding has become a legitimate method of creating films that may have traditionally struggled for support. The film, still relevant and controversial, will provide the PictureHouse Central audience with a master class from in front of and behind the camera.