About the film
Spike Lee ignited Cannes this year with his BlacKkKlansman, which received an 8-minute standing ovation after the World Premiere of his acclaimed feature, produced by the team behind the Academy-Award® winning Get Out.
This satirical drama takes it inspiration from real-life detective Ron Stallworth, who infiltrated his local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan in 1972.
John David Washington, son of Denzel, plays Stallworth, the first black detective in Colorado Springs who, after going undercover at a rally by national civil rights leader Kwame Ture, calls the local branch of the KKK and pretends to be a white man. Despite using his own name over the phone, Ron recruits his Jewish colleague Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver, cool as ever) to be his avatar and meet the members of the local Ku Klux Klan in person.
Together, they team up to take down the extremist hate group as the organization aims to sanitize its violent rhetoric to appeal to the mainstream.
It’s a serious subject with a powerful message; Lee’s film is full of humorous moments and a definite homage to 1970s movies like Shaft.
It packs a powerful punch when it absconds from being a 1970s-set farce to make a comment about the Charlottesville rally and the current racial divide in Trump’s America.
This is what you'll want to know after the movie.
Was Ron Stallworth really Colorado Springs' first black police detective?
Yes. The BlacKkKlansman true story confirms that in the 1970s Ron Stallworth became the first African-American police officer and detective to work for the Colorado Springs Police Department.
Did Ron Stallworth really infiltrate the KKK?
Yes. In October 1978, detective Ron Stallworth successfully infiltrated the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan in Colorado Springs, CO. Like in the movie, he initiated contact by responding to a classified ad in the local newspaper. "I was sitting in my office reading the local newspaper," says Stallworth, "saw an ad that said Ku Klux Klan.
To convince the Klan he was serious about joining, did he tell them he was upset because his sister was dating a black man?
Yes. This is the story that the real Ron Stallworth said he used to convince the clan of his undercover identity. "Hi, this is Ken, we got your letter. Why do you want to join the Klan?"
'My sister is dating a black man, and every time he puts his filthy black hands on her pure white body, I cringe, I want to do something.' He said, 'You're just the kinda guy we want.'"
Is Adam Driver's character based on Ron Stallworth's real-life partner in the investigation?
Yes, but very loosely. The identity of the real officer who posed as the "white" Stallworth has not been revealed.
Did Ron Stallworth become the leader of a local chapter of the KKK?
No. Like in the movie, Stallworth was nominated to become the local organizer for the Colorado Springs chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. However, in real life, it was at this point that the chief panicked and immediately shut down the investigation.
Did Ron Stallworth really have conversations with David Duke, the National Director of the KKK?
Yes. The Colorado Springs chapter was under the auspices of David Duke's Invisible Empire. During one of their phone conversations, Stallworth asked David Duke, "Aren't you afraid of an undercover police officer infiltrating your organization or maybe a black man calling you up and pretending to be white?" Duke told Stallworth that he wasn't fearful of that because he could always tell when he was talking to a black person (Duke used the N word).