In Miracle at St. Anna, four African-American soldiers are trapped behind enemy lines in Italy near the end of World War II; caught between indifferent leadership and hostile troops, the four fight to survive -- and protect the Italian villagers they've come to know during their exile. Director Spike Lee spoke with Cinematical from New York about the challenges of film financing in modern Hollywood ("it's hard to get stuff made today that's not superhero, comic-book, TV show, sequel stuff. ..."), shooting in an 800-year-old Italian town (" ... all we had to do was take down the satellite dishes ...") and the challenges his new film faces (" ... historically, women do not run to see, or even walk to see, or even crawl to see World War II films ..."), The Wire ("'Omar's Coming!'"), sequel possibilities for Inside Man and more.
Lee even touched on politics and race in the here-and-now: "I'm optimistic. We're going to have a Black president. The 44th President of the United States is going to be a Black man ... I think this is a definite indication of how far America has moved in how it views race. ..."
Cinematical: I was very curious if you could talk a little bit about the genesis of what brought you specifically to Miracle at St. Anna as a film?
Spike Lee: I needed something to read; I went into my wife's office; looked up on her shelf upon shelf of books (laughs) and the spirit told me to go to this one book -- all the time my head is twisted to the side, trying to read the titles -- read this title, Miracle at St. Anna; that sounds interesting; take the book off the shelf, see the cover of a Black soldier with a young Italian kid, World War II, said "Let me read this. ..." After the first chapter, I said "I want to make this into a film, called up James McBride, we met ... and here we are. That's the abbreviated version. ...