Friday, December 15, 2017
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Spike Lee premieres University of Missouri film near campus
Interim UM Systems President Mike Middleton, left, introduces filmmaker Spike Lee before the premiere of "2 Fists Up", Spike Lee's documentary about protests at the University of Missouri, at the Missouri Theatre on Wednesday, April 6, 2016, in Columbia, Mo. Lee worked with ESPN to make the documentary, which examines how the Black Lives Matter movement sparked activism at the University of Missouri. (Mikala Compton/Missourian via AP)
  • COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP)
  • --

A Spike Lee documentary about protests at the University of Missouri this fall, which were spurred by what activists said was administrators' indifference to racial issues on campus, made its premiere Wednesday night at a theater near the campus.

Lee worked with ESPN to make the documentary, "2 Fists Up," which examines how the Black Lives Matter movement sparked activism at the University of Missouri and the rest of the county.

Lee contacted the university to set up a screening of a one-hour version of the film, the Columbia Daily Tribune reported.

It was shown at the Missouri Theatre in downtown Columbia. About 800 people were in attendance, the Columbia Missourian and Kansas City Star reported.

University of Missouri System interim President Michael Middleton introduced Lee to the crowd ahead of the screening.

The documentary was initially slated to premiere May 31 as part of a package of short films by Lee collectively called "Spike Lee's Lil' Joints." Jennifer Cingari, a publicist for ESPN Films, said the network still plans to premiere a 22-minute version of the documentary on the network's platforms around that time. A third 30-minute version of the documentary will also be shown at the Tribeca Film Festival this month in New York City.

"Spike is excited about it. He really wants people to see it," Cingari told the Daily Tribune. "It got such a good response. He feels a connection to this."

Lee was on campus last month to interview subjects for the film and record footage of the Concerned Student 1950 group as it protested at multiple spots on campus.

The protests resulted in campus chancellor R. Bowen Loftin and University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe resigning amid discord that included a graduate student's hunger strike and members of the school's football team pledging to boycott the rest of their season until Wolfe was gone.

Missouri football coach Barry Odom said he was not contacted to be in Lee's film or about his players meeting with Lee, but said he trusts they were "responsible" and handled it "the right way." Odom was promoted after former coach Gary Pinkel announced he was retiring days after the season ended because he was suffering from cancer.