American film director Spike Lee speaks to media on Saturday at the Park Hyatt in Sydney.  Picture: Bianca De Marchi/AAP
American film director Spike Lee speaks to media on Saturday at the Park Hyatt in Sydney. Picture: Bianca De Marchi/AAP

Indigenous NRL players' anthem stand backed by Spike Lee

AMERICAN film director Spike Lee has praised indigenous rugby league players who plan to remain silent during the national anthem at next week's State of Origin.

"More power to them," he said.

The African-American filmmaker, who recently won an Oscar for BlacKkKlansman, says sport has a role to play in the battle against racism worldwide.

"I think changes happen first in sports," he said on Saturday ahead of his appearance at the Vivid Game Changer Series in Sydney.

"Sports has, I feel, always been a vehicle to move society forward."

His comments came after Queensland star Will Chambers joined NSW rivals Cody Walker and Josh Addo-Carr by announcing he would not sing Advance Australia Fair because it doesn't represent indigenous Australians.

"More power to them," Lee said again, a day after touching down in Australia for the first time.

Excited, albeit tired, Lee said he was excited to explore "picturesque" Sydney and he looked forward to coming back in the summer.

Known for ground-breaking films such as She's Gotta Have It (1986), Do the Right Thing (1989), Malcolm X (1992), Lee has been an outspoken figure in the film industry, using his works to make politically charged statements on race relations since first appearing on the scene in the 1980s.

Despite his critical acclaim and cult-like status, it hasn't become any easier to make racially focused films.

"It's still a struggle to get stuff made, especially if you're not doing Marvel comic books," he said.

News Corp Australia

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