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Directed by Spike Lee

United States 2000 135 mins. In English

Routinely overshadowed by Lee’s better-known films (Do the Right Thing, She’s Gotta Have It, Malcolm X, et al.), Bamboozled is perhaps his angriest, most overtly scintillating work. Harvard-educated Pierre Delacroix (Damon Wayans), a Black producer working for a large broadcast television network, struggles to come up with the season’s hot new idea—and, after some help from his assistant Sloane Hopkins (Jada Pinkett), stumbles into producing a minstrel show starring street performers Manray (Savion Glover) and Womack (Tommy Davidson) as black performers wearing Blackface and acting in full caricature. The show proves a surprise mainstream hit, to the delight of Delacroix’s racist and money-grubbing boss, but as the accolades roll in, success begins to get the better of Delacroix and Manray, with violent and troubling consequence. Employing a raw, energetic style utilizing grainy digital video in a presciently proto-viral move, this “Under-appreciated and under-seen… major studio work fearlessly explores the corrosive, lasting effects of the racial stereotypes forged in Hollywood’s early days and beyond.”—Ashley Clark, Facing Blackness.