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Charlottesville Moviegoers Warned of Real Footage in Spike Lee Film


Director Spike Lee, Grand Prix award winner for his film "BlacKkKlansman," poses after the closing ceremony of the 71st Cannes Film Festival, Cannes, France, May 19, 2018.

A new movie about racism, timed to open on the anniversary weekend of last year’s deadly white nationalist march in Charlottesville, Virginia, has been prefaced with a disclaimer in the college town where the march took place.

A sign posted at the Alamo Drafthouse in Charlottesville on Friday, the day of the movie’s opening, said “The final minutes of ‘BlacKkKlansman’ feature a powerful epilogue that could be disturbing or difficult to watch for many viewers in Charlottesville.”

The film includes footage from last year’s attack in Charlottesville when a vehicle drove into a group of counter-protesters on foot, throwing people into the air. One woman died in the attack and several more were seriously injured.

Topher Grace poses at the premiere for "BlacKkKlansman" in Beverly Hills, Calif., Aug. 8, 2018.
Topher Grace poses at the premiere for "BlacKkKlansman" in Beverly Hills, Calif., Aug. 8, 2018.

Filmmaker Spike Lee, whose career include a number of films that make pointed statements about race relations, has said he specifically planned to release his latest film on the Charlottesville anniversary.

An actor in the film, Topher Grace, said the first time he saw the film, at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year, the Charlottesville footage came as a surprise. He told industry publication The Hollywood Reporter Friday, “I think the audience didn’t know at first that it was real-life footage and there was this kind of gasp.”

Actor John David Washington, 34, who plays an African-American man whose character infiltrates the white supremacist group the Ku Klux Klan, told The Hollywood Reporter that he questioned his mother about the current racial climate, compared to the height of the U.S. civil rights movement in the 1960s and early 1970s.

John David Washington arrives at the premiere of "BlacKkKlansman," Aug. 8, 2018, at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, Calif.
John David Washington arrives at the premiere of "BlacKkKlansman," Aug. 8, 2018, at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, Calif.

“I asked, ‘Do you think the times are worse then or now?” he said. “And she said, ‘Now.’”

BlacKkKlansman, which won the Grand Prix at Cannes, earned $3.6 million on its opening day Friday.

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