Spike Lee’s latest movie may earn him some impressive hardware at the Academy Awards on Sunday, but not everyone is convinced BlacKkKlansman is a winner. Boots Riley, director of the already underrated Sorry To Bother You, sparked a beef with Spike Lee when he pened an essay criticizing BlackKklansman for its positive representation of the police in a movie where an African American officer infiltrates and takes down a Colorado chapter of the Ku Klux Klan.
Riley called the film a “made-up story” which tries to “make a cop the protagonist in the fight against racist oppression.” Though the story was based on true events, Riley claimed it was made from “fabricated story notes.”
That apparently didn’t sit very well with Lee, who called him out when the two say each other at various events over the months since the criticism. But according to Riley, any potential issues are now “squashed” between the two directors. Riley was interviewed by Variety at the Independent Spirit Awards on Saturday and described the various run-ins with Lee and how they made amends.
“I saw him at the Governor’s Ball and he yelled at me as he walked away, saying ‘I’m Miles Davis, you’re Chet Baker’ over and over,” Riley recalled. But things changed later in awards season when Lee saw Riley at a different event.
“Then I saw him at the DGA luncheon,” Riley said. “And he said come here and said ‘Squashed? Squashed.’”
Despite the buzz the disagreement made online, Riley made it clear that there’s no bad blood between the two filmmakers, and he still respects Lee’s work.
“I’ve said the whole time Spike is the reason I went to film school,” Riley said.
Riley has made it clear in the past that he didn’t expect Sorry To Bother You to get much love during award season, but it’s good to see that things have cooled between he and Lee. It’s clear the two respect each other as filmmakers quite a bit, and if Lee got Riley into filmmaking, having them on good terms seems best for all of us, really.