Spike Lee Releases a Short Tribute Film to New York Amid Coronavirus

If there is anyone who could look at the vacant New York City streets right now and still feel a powerful admiration and sense of inspiration, it is Spike Lee.

The iconic filmmaker released a short film that captures the stillness that has pervaded the entirety of New York City as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. New York, New Yorkset to the classic Frank Sinatra song bearing the same name, shows a city on pause: empty subway stations and neighborhood parks, and closed landmarks such as Broadway theatres, the Statue of Liberty, and Yankee Stadium.

“It’s painful when you see there is nobody there,” the seminal New York filmmaker and Brooklyn native told Anderson Cooper upon premiering the short film on CNN. In true Spike Lee style, just as he exposes the grit and the grime inherent to New York, he also captures the pulse and the magic that enliven the city, even under the government imposed stay-at-home orders.

New Yorkers only appear at the end of the film, where they are seen waiting in socially-distanced lines outside of pharmacies and medical centers, or from their balconies saluting the healthcare workers for the nightly 7 o’clock applause. New York will triumph, Lee reminds us. It has certainly turned eerily quiet and empty, but the typically vibrant and bustling city has an indelible spirit stronger than any virus.

“You know what?” he added. “I wouldn’t want to be any other place than here, the epicenter.”