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Spike Lee... Using the arts to change lives

The director attended a digital conference in Sandton, north of Johannesburg, on Wednesday.

Veteran film director, Spike Lee. Picture: Facebook.

JOHANNESBURG - Attending this year's Nedbank Digital Edge Live conference, veteran film director Spike Lee shared his insights on filmmaking, digital innovation and how he intends to use the platform to change lives.

Lee debuted a preview of his latest musical comedy, _Chiraq, _at the conference in Sandton.

_Chiraq _is Lee's latest offering, which will be released by online streaming service, Amazon, as its first theatrical film and will make its official debut in theatres on 4 December.

Lee says the film focuses on Chicago's inner city violence and replicates the escalated gun problem in America.

"It's my opinion that the US is the most violent [place] in the world. We started shooting Chiraq on 1 June and finished on 9 July; 331 people got shot and wounded, 61 were murdered in that time."

On the production, he says he has received much criticism for crowd-sourcing funding for the project.

"I was criticised a lot for being an established film maker, using crowd sourcing. There was no internet back in 1985, we had to raise $15 000 for She's Gotta Have It."

A stage view of Spike Lee's presentation on 9 September at Digital Edge 2015. Picture: Neo Koza/ EWN

Expressing his thoughts on South Africa's supposed slow transformation and movements like 'Rhodes Must Fall', Lee commended SA for what it's achieved.

"No country comes out the womb sprinting. A country that is 21 years old is merely an infant. I know many countries who have had their independence twice or four times longer than you [South Africa] and they still don't have it together"

Lee, who is now a professor for New York University, has urged the South African government to do more in the support young artists.

"I want your country to be the beacon for the whole continent, throughout everything. This government has to get behind young artists more, no matter what the art form is. The country is only as great as the young artists it produces."

In the meantime, he encouraged youth to look at alternatives, saying the same funding used to attend university can be funded toward self-learning.

"With the digital revolution today, you do not have to go to film school to be a film maker."