Five things you need to know before ‘2 Fists Up’ comes out

Director Spike Lee visited campus last month to film the Concerned Student 1950 documentary.

As Concerned Student 1950 marched through MU’s campus on March 7, director Spike Lee followed close behind filming video on his phone. This footage has become the basis for a documentary focusing on how Concerned Student 1950’s efforts last fall ignited activism at MU and the rest of the country.

The film, titled “2 Fists Up,” will screen at Tribeca Film Festival on April 15, but first, it’s showing at 8 p.m. on Wednesday at Missouri Theatre. Lee told the Columbia Missourian that the showing Wednesday will be the only showing of the full 60-minute version of the documentary, which is otherwise a half hour long. The showing is free and open to the public.

Here are a few things you should know before tuning in:

What is the film about?

“2 Fists Up” focuses on the efforts of Concerned Student 1950, an organization of activists at MU. The group dominated media outlets last fall when its members set up a tent city on Carnahan Quad and led a series of protests that contributed to the resignation of UM System President Tim Wolfe. His resignation came after graduate student Jonathan Butler’s hunger strike. Combined with the football team boycott, it pushed the entire movement into the national spotlight. Lee accompanied CS1950 on their march through campus. He also sat down with several students throughout the filming process, including football players Marvin Zanders and J’Mon Moore. The film also delves into the Black Lives Matter movement and the events that occurred in Ferguson, Missouri, after the shooting of Michael Brown. According to the Columbia Missourian, Lee will be attending the showing at the Missouri Theatre after teaching an invite-only master class from 3 to 5 p.m. Lee’s short about the group will be digitally released on ESPN platforms May 31.

What can we look forward to?

One of the key moments of the film will be an interview with Butler, one of the original 11 members of Concerned Student 1950. In November, Butler declared that he was going on a hunger strike until Wolfe resigned. Butler was a leading member of CS1950, but he announced in a series of tweets March 7 that he was “no longer affiliated or organizing with” Concerned Student 1950. According to students who got to work with Lee while filming, his twist on the movement’s story is special because of its “behind the scenes” moments. The film will not only show footage of big demonstrations, but will include the personal motivations of the organization’s members.

Who is Spike Lee?

Lee is a film director and producer known for his focus on black rights activism, shown in two of his most famous films: “Malcolm X” and “Do The Right Thing.” One of his recent films, “Chi-Raq,” dealt with high rates of violence in Chicago, but it debuted to mixed reviews due to perceived inaccuracy. He also owns the film company 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks, which has produced over 35 films since its creation in 1983. He also sparked controversy during the Oscars season when he refused to attend the awards alongside his friends Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith.

Who’s producing the film?

The series started through ESPN as a spin-off of ESPN Films’ “30 for 30” documentary series, and many of his projects can still be viewed on their website. Lee’s shorts combine his passions for sports and racial issues. His films have documented NBA nicknames, the first African-American hockey player and an array of other topics. The series is called “Spike Lee’s Lil’ Joints.”

Wasn’t there another film about the group?

Yes, documentary journalism students Adam Dietrich, Varun Bajaj and Kellan Marvin decided to sustain the movement’s original purpose by creating a documentary titled “Concerned Student 1950” about the group. The film was a last-minute addition to the lineup at True/False Film Fest, where it illustrated the protests, strikes and intimate moments.

Edited by Jeremiah Wooten | jwooten@themaneater.com

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