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Alice Tully Hall


Spike Lee

With Presenters
Introduction by Don Lemon In Conversation with Darren Walker
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Join Spike Lee in person as we honor the legendary career of the Academy Award-winning director. The Chaplin Award Gala is the most important fundraising event of the year for Film at Lincoln Center, and all proceeds benefit the organization in its mission to support the art and craft of cinema.

Film at Lincoln Center is pleased to announce the 46th Chaplin Award Gala honoring Academy Award–winner Spike Lee. Postponed last year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the tribute is now rescheduled for Thursday, September 9 at Alice Tully Hall. The Chaplin Award Gala is the most important fundraising event of the year for Film at Lincoln Center, and all proceeds benefit the organization in its mission to support the art and craft of cinema. With an introduction by CNN anchor Don Lemon, the Gala promises to be a joyful celebration, featuring an excerpt from Lee’s upcoming HBO documentary event NYC Epicenters 9/11→2021½, the filmmaker’s newest testament to the strength and resilience of NYC. The screening will be followed by an extended conversation with Lee and Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation, about the documentary, also touching on the director’s career more broadly.

“We are proud to present Spike Lee with the Chaplin Award, a much-deserved honor and a long-overdue celebration,” said FLC Executive Director Lesli Klainberg. “It’s hard to conceive of the New York film community without Spike. For four decades he has been making films that speak to our vibrant city and to the larger world, and his work remains as vital as ever.”


In advance of the gala, Film at Lincoln Center is presenting free outdoor screenings of some of Lee’s beloved films: Mo’ Better Blues on Governors Island August 6 and Do the Right Thing in Damrosch Park on August 10. 

Spike Lee has left an undeniable mark on filmmaking and television. His career spans 40 years and includes Joe’s Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads (ND/NF 1983),  She’s Gotta Have It, School Daze, Do the Right Thing, Mo’ Better Blues, Jungle Fever, Malcolm X, Crooklyn, Clockers, Girl 6, Get on the Bus, He Got Game, Summer of Sam, Bamboozled, 25th Hour, She Hate Me, Inside Man, Miracle at St. Anna, Red Hook Summer, Oldboy, Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, Chi-Raq, BlacKkKlansman—which won him the Grand Prix at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival and his first Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay—and most recently, Da 5 Bloods. Lee was previously a two-time Oscar nominee (Do the Right Thing for Best Original Screenplay and 4 Little Girls for Best Documentary Feature), and was awarded an Honorary Oscar in 2015 for his lifetime achievement; he was also nominated for directing and co-producing BlacKkKlansman. Most recently, he was Emmy-nominated for Outstanding Directing for a Variety Special for his work on HBO’s American Utopia (NYFF58).

Lee’s outstanding feature documentary work includes If God Is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise, a follow-up to his triple-Emmy-winning HBO mosaic When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, and the Peabody-winning A Huey P. Newton Story. Lee recently completed a two-season run as co-writer, co-producer, and director of the Netflix original series She’s Gotta Have It, a contemporary update of his classic film. Lee is also known for his legendary Air Jordan TV commercials and marketing campaigns with Michael Jordan for Nike. In 1997, he launched the advertising firm Spike DDB, a fully integrated agency with a focus on trendsetter, cross-cultural, and millennial audiences. In addition to his films, TV series, and commercials, Lee has directed short films for artists such as Michael Jackson, Prince, Public Enemy, Branford Marsalis, Bruce Hornsby, Miles Davis, and Anita Baker. 

He is a graduate of Morehouse College and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where he is a tenured professor of film and artistic director. Lee’s production company 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks is based in Da Republic of Brooklyn, NY. 

The annual gala began in 1972 when it honored Charlie Chaplin, who returned to the U.S. from exile to accept the commendation. Since then, the Chaplin Award has been presented to many of the film industry’s most notable talents, including Alfred Hitchcock, Billy Wilder, Laurence Olivier, Federico Fellini, Elizabeth Taylor, Bette Davis, James Stewart, Robert Altman, Martin Scorsese, Diane Keaton, Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Sidney Poitier, Barbra Streisand, Robert Redford, Morgan Freeman, Robert De Niro, and Helen Mirren. 

Film at Lincoln Center gives special thanks to the 46th Chaplin Award Gala Co-Chairs: Susannah Gray and John Lyons, Susan and John Hess, Tara Kelleher and Roy Zuckerberg, Imelda and Peter Sobiloff, Daniel and Nanna Stern, and Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee.

Chaplin Award Gala Honorees:

2021 Spike Lee
2018 Helen Mirren
2017 Robert De Niro
2016 Morgan Freeman
2015 Robert Redford
2014 Rob Reiner
2013 Barbra Streisand
2012 Catherine Deneuve
2011 Sidney Poitier
2010 Michael Douglas
2009 Tom Hanks
2008 Meryl Streep
2007 Diane Keaton
2006 Jessica Lange
2005 Dustin Hoffman
2004 Michael Caine
2003 Susan Sarandon
2002 Francis Ford Coppola
2001 Jane Fonda
2000 Al Pacino
1999 Mike Nichols
1998 Martin Scorsese
1997 Sean Connery
1996 Clint Eastwood
1995 Shirley MacLaine
1994 Robert Altman
1993 Jack Lemmon
1992 Gregory Peck
1991 Audrey Hepburn
1990 James Stewart
1989 Bette Davis
1988 Yves Montand
1987 Alec Guinness
1986 Elizabeth Taylor
1985 Federico Fellini
1984 Claudette Colbert
1983 Laurence Olivier
1982 Billy Wilder
1981 Barbara Stanwyck
1980 John Huston
1979 Bob Hope
1978 George Cukor
1975 Joanne Woodward & Paul Newman
1974 Alfred Hitchcock
1973 Fred Astaire
1972 Charles Chaplin

Photo by Marc Baptiste.

Frequently Asked Questions

You can secure premium seating at the Chaplin Award Gala tribute by purchasing Gala Dinner and Tribute tickets, which include premium seating at the Tribute and the Gala Dinner. Tribute and Gala Dinner tickets start at $2,500.

Gala Dinner and Tribute tickets are on sale now. Dinner and Table Seats may be purchased by contacting us at Tribute tickets may be purchased at the link above.

Tribute-only tickets range in prices from $50 – $750. All proceeds from the Chaplin Award Gala benefit Film at Lincoln Center’s programs and activities as a nonprofit organization.

Tribute only tickets can be emailed at time of purchase or held at the Alice Tully Box Office for pick up on the evening of the gala.

Tribue and Gala Dinner tickets can be retrieved from the sunken plaza outside Alice Tully Hall on the evening of the gala. For additional questions, please contact the Gala RSVP line (

The evening’s attire is cocktail.

Yes. For Gala Dinner and Tribute tickets, the face value of each ticket less $300 is tax-deductible. For Tribute only tickets, the face value of each ticket less $100 is tax-deductible. Please consult your tax advisor as to your individual circumstance with regard to tax deductibility.

Click here for an Alice Tully Hall seating map.

COVID-related health protocols will be in place at Alice Tully Hall, which include proof of vaccination requirements for all staff, audiences, and filmmakers. Please refer to our health protocols webpage for the most up-to-date information.

Thank you for your support. All tickets to the 2020 Gala have been refunded to the original form of payment, or per the request of the ticket buyer, donated to the organization. New tickets will need to be purchased in order to attend the 2021 Gala. If you have additional questions, please contact

For information about attending the gala, please contact For sponsorship opportunities, please contact Liz Gardner at or call (212) 671-4559.