The Spike Lee Brand

A Study of Documentary Filmmaking

By Delphine Letort
Foreword by Mark A. Reid

Subjects: African American Studies, Film Studies, Cultural Studies
Series: SUNY series in African American Studies
Paperback : 9781438457628, 226 pages, July 2016
Hardcover : 9781438457635, 226 pages, September 2015

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations
Foreword: Agency as Remembering and Retelling
Mark A. Reid

List of Abbreviations
1. The Making of Spike Lee’s Nonfiction Joints
2. History and Memory: The African American Experience
3. Media and Race
4. The Legacy of Black Nationalism: Culture and Politics

A rare look at Spike Lee’s creative appropriation of the documentary film genre.


In this groundbreaking book, Delphine Letort sheds light on a neglected part of Spike Lee's filmmaking by offering a rare look at his creative engagement with the genre of documentary filmmaking. Ranging from history to sports and music, Lee has tackled a diversity of topics in such nonfiction films as 4 Little Girls, A Huey P. Newton Story, Jim Brown: All-American, and When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts. Letort analyzes the narrative and aesthetic discourses that structure these films and calls attention to Lee's technical skills and narrative-framing devices. Drawing on film and media studies, African American studies, and cultural theories, she examines the sociological value of Lee's investigations into contemporary culture and also explores the ethics of his commitment to a genre characterized by its claim to truth.

Delphine Letort is Associate Professor of English at the Université du Maine in Le Mans, France.


"The Spike Lee Brand makes a very important contribution to scholarly studies on the film-work of Spike Lee … [and] places Lee in the pantheon of important social political documentarians such as Claude Lanzmann and Emile de Antonio." — from the Foreword by Mark A. Reid

"…an important entry within the fields of film studies and African-American cultural studies." — Cercles