Spike Lee’s new four-part “documentary essay,” called NYC EPICENTERS 9/11 ➔ 2021½, brings viewers through the past twenty years using a New York City lens. Set to hit HBO on August 22nd, the docuseries begins in 2020, recounting the pandemic, the demonstrations in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, and “the civil unrest and police brutality that followed.” These, and other seminal moments of New York’s more recent history, are told through Lee’s own documentation as well as “the stories, memories and insights of those who were eyewitnesses to New York’s greatest challenges.”
Lee conducted over 200 interviews for the project, bringing together “first-hand accounts from residents of all walks of life, including first responders, politicians, and journalists alongside Lee and his own family and friends, complemented by a treasure trove of visual imagery.”
The first chapter features frontline workers, Mayor Bill de Blasio, reporters, and Christian Cooper. It also puts focus on Governor Andrew Cuomo’s missteps early on in the pandemic, as well as the mounting bullying and sexual harassment allegations against him.
The first trailer has just been released, and as you’ll see the resilient spirit of the New Yorkers who stayed helps set the tone:
On a cinematic front, Lee turns to the movies to highlight themes throughout the series, using clips from Do the Right Thing, Inside Man, On the Waterfront, Casablanca, and the 1940s classic On the Town. And in the early moments of the series, you’ll also see Lee’s “love letter” that he released last year in the form of a short film called New York New York.
From the press release:
The quintessential New York filmmaker uses his unique sensibilities to craft a multi-faceted mosaic of the city as it deals with some of the most life-changing events of the last twenty years. Beginning with the ongoing global pandemic and the urgency of the Black Lives Matter movement, Lee traverses through time to the devastating terrorist attacks of 9/11. This provocative series is an epic chronicle of life, loss and survival in what Lee calls “the greatest city on this God’s earth.” NYC EPICENTERS 9/11➔2021½ captures the flavor and heart of New York City, exploring its resilience and grit and affirming its innate ability to rebound, rebuild and endure.