Spike Lee To Direct Colin Kaepernick Documentary For ESPN Films

Civil rights activist and former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick is teaming up with Oscar-winning writer-director Spike Lee for a new multi-part ESPN Films documentary. The documentary comes on the heels of Kaepernick's recent Netflix series, "Colin in Black and White," co-created by Ava DuVernay. It is being developed as part of a first-look deal that Kaepernick signed with Disney back in July 2020 during the summer of the George Floyd protests, when demonstrations against police brutality swept the nation and studios began making a commitment to tell more stories addressing issues of race and social injustice.

A press release (via Variety) described Lee's documentary on Kaepernick as follows:

"Kaepernick, who has never given a full, first-person account of his journey, is collaborating closely with Lee who plans to use extensive new interviews and a vast never-before-seen archive to help Kaepernick tell his story from his perspective."

The key words there are "full, first-person account." Though Kaepernick appeared onscreen in "Colin in Black and White," talking to the camera, that series was more a dramatization of his coming-of-age years, with Jaden Michael of "Vampires vs. the Bronx" playing the young Kaepernick and Nick Offerman and Mary-Louise Parker playing his adoptive parents. By incorporating interviews and archive footage, it sounds like Lee's documentary will focus more on Kaepernick's life after he became a public figure.

Kaepernick on Kaepernick, By Way of Lee

Kaepernick played for the San Francisco 49ers from 2011 to 2016, leading his team to their first Super Bowl since 1994. During the 2016 NFL season, he famously began kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial oppression. In 2017, then-President Donald Trump suggested that NFL players who protested in such a manner should be fired, and Kaepernick subsequently became a free agent and went unsigned by any team, thereby cutting short his football career.

Since picking up his first Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay with "BlacKkKlansman," Lee has enjoyed a career resurgence, with many citing his 2020 Netflix war drama, "Da 5 Bloods," as an example of a film that should have also received a nomination for Delroy Lindo's performance. "Da 5 Bloods" was one of the late Chadwick Boseman's final films, and it also featured an up-and-coming Jonathan Majors, who has since gone on to star in "Lovecraft Country" and "The Harder They Fall." However, Lee also has many documentary credits to his name, such as "4 Little Girls" and "When the Levees Broke," and he's always kept one foot in that world, with his most recent project being the HBO documentary miniseries, "NYC Epicenters 9/11→2021½."

If anyone can be trusted to give Kaepernick a frank platform for revisiting his public life, it's Lee. ESPN Films, meanwhile, also delivered a probing, much-talked-about documentary of Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls with "The Last Dance" in 2020, so having it set its sights on a prominent NFL figure is sure to engender some buzz.

This as-yet-untitled, multi-part Colin Kaepernick documentary by Spike Lee doesn't have a release date yet, but we'll keep you posted.