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Spike Lee Wins $300,000 Dorothy And Lillian Gish Prize For 2013

Spike Lee Wins $300,000 Dorothy And Lillian Gish Prize For 2013

A month after successfully raising just over $1.4 million via Kickstarter to finance his next joint, Spike Lee has been announced as the recipient of this year’s Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize, according to The New York Times, which comes with a $300,000 cash award.

Said to be 1 of the largest prizes awarded in the field of the arts, and now in its 20th year, the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize, was established by actress Lillian Gish (star of dozens of films spanning 75 years, including D. W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation), and is awarded to “a man or woman who has made an outstanding contribution to the beauty of the world and to mankind’s enjoyment and understanding of life,” says the prize foundation’s website.

This marks 2 years in a row that the award has gone to a recipient of African descent. Last year, actress Anna Deavere Smith was honored with it, for using her position as an artist and educator to address social issues of the day.

Spike Lee, who will receive the award on October 30 at a private event at the Museum of Modern Art here in NYC, was chosen from 30 finalists in all fields of the arts, nominated by other artists. 

Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, and chairman of the Gish Prize selection committee had this to say: “We honor Spike Lee for his brilliance and unwavering courage in using film to challenge conventional thinking, and for the passion for justice he feels in his soul.”

Spike added: “Would you believe, two of the most important films that impacted me while I was studying at N.Y.U. starred Lillian Gish? Those films were D.W. Griffith’s ‘The Birth of a Nation’ and Charles Laughton’s ‘The Night of the Hunter.’”

If you’ve seen The Night Of The Hunter, and Spike’s Do The Right Thing, you would already know of one way that the former inspired the latter. If you don’t know, watch the 2 clips that follow below.

So, today’s survey question is: what would you like to see Spike do with that $300,000?

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Carla D McClain

Keep doing what he's always been doing, speaking the truth through media since it's the mainstream to get the message out to the world and for those who choose to pretend that " ism" don't exisit.


I can imagine fans of a music artist, contributing to a recording of a project.
Well done, Spike.

Donnie Leapheart

"What would you like to see Spike do with that $300,000?"

Two words: Strip Club


"We honor Spike Lee for his brilliance and unwavering courage in using film to challenge conventional thinking, and for the passion for justice he feels in his soul." ~ Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation

WOW! Can y'all see my heart smiling? Since visiting S&A I can't count the times my heart sunk upon hearing Spike vilified, lynched and laughed at (here at this site) from those who didn't respect nor appreciate his brilliance and passion for his people. Ironically it has taken a white institution named after an actress who starred in one of the most racist propaganda films of all times – to reward Spike for doing the right thing (no pun intended).

Having said that, and in line with the saying "it's right to do right", I am reminded of the parable of the sower. A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop – a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.

Well, Spike has been planting the right seeds, doing the right thang, in the right soil, for a very long time, now serendipitous rewards are coming his way.

HIP HIP HOORAY for Spike Lee!

What would "I" like to see Spike do with that $300,000? Well, the ol' skool in me says to never tell another man what to do with his money. Consequently, I'd try to be like Spike and do the right thang,.. simply sing him the Isley Brother song "It's Your Thing".

Spike, if you're listening, this one is for you. It's your thing/Do what you wanna do/I can't tell you/How to do yo do… cus you da man!


I think he should use the $300,000 towards the distribution of his new film from kickstarter. He could use that money to start the film in a 12 to 15 city rollout and then expand the film in more theaters in the coming weeks after that. This would be big, producing and distributing your own film, essentially cutting out the politics of the studios and proven to people you don't need the studios now, they need you, they no longer hold that type of power over artists anymore.


That's brilliant. I love spike's reinterpretation. It shows a real depth, cleverness, and understanding of a filmmaker's love of craft, and art, when he's able to meld something from the past and bring it to audiences in the present.

Congrats on the Gish prize, Spike!

Adam Scott Thompson

I remembered seeing "Night of the Hunter" (after having seen "Do the Right Thing" multiple times) and thinking, "I wonder if that's where Spike got it from."

P.S. – Charles Laughton should have made more films!

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