*By Max Godnick * Spike Lee's "BlacKkKlansman" opened nationwide on Friday, on the eve of the anniversary of the Charlottesville riots ー and that's no coincidence. The movie recalls the true story of Ron Stallworth, a black Colorado Springs police officer who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s. The film may take place 40-ish years in the past, but it calls for urgent action, said Natasha Alford, deputy editor at [theGrio](https://thegrio.com/). "Spike Lee wants us to see the past in what's happening now, and he wants people to do something about it," Alford said Friday in an interview with Cheddar. "BlacKkKlansman" is a period film, but it features footage from last year's white supremacist demonstrations in Charlottesville, Va., where hundreds were protesting the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. One woman was killed when a white nationalist drove a car into a group of counter-demonstrators, and dozens were injured. Lee has described his movie as a wake-up call inspired, in part, by President Trump's declaration after Charlottesville that he saw ["blame on both sides"](https://www.cnn.com/2017/08/15/politics/trump-charlottesville-delay/index.html). "We've seen so much in the news in terms of hate crimes and racial attacks that you honestly can grow a little bit numb," Alford said. "I think watching the movie made it real again." The film won the Grand Prix award at the Cannes Film Festival and seems destined for box-office success and consideration for major awards. Focus Features, the movie's distributor, expanded its premiere from original estimates of 500 screens to 1,500 nationwide. Lee has only been nominated for two Oscars in his storied career, most recently for his 1994 documentary, "4 Little Girls." But his cold streak with the Academy seems likely to end next year. "I think this is a proud moment in Spike Lee's filmmaking legacy," Alford said. "BlacKkKlansman's" cultural relevance transcends Charlottesville. Earlier this week, Fox News anchor Laura Ingraham stoked racial tension when she blamed ["massive demographic changes"](https://www.axios.com/laura-ingraham-demographics-fox-news-4e169316-d912-40d8-b3b6-9666cc2d1af8.html) for the loss of an "America that we know and love." She walked back her comments after white supremacist David Duke endorsed the monologue on Twitter. "It's funny that people are surprised that language like this inflamed racial tension and 'BlacKkKlansman' addresses this perfectly," Alford said. "When people like Laura Ingraham push that message they have to understand the history from which that comes and they can't be ignorant about the fact that they're essentially appealing to a lot of people who have racist ideologies." For full interview, [click here](https://cheddar.com/videos/blackkklansman-debuts-on-the-anniversary-of-charlottesville-rallies).

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