Spike Lee’s New York is gritty. It’s often dark, unforgiving and uncomfortable. Throughout his expansive, 30-year film career, Mr. Lee has explored the difficult issues of race, poverty and crime in a way Hollywood filmmakers have been afraid to. It’s Mr. Lee’s daring spirit and willingness to conquer racial taboos that have extended his influence into the national political arena. Since his start in 1986, Mr. Lee has made a name for himself as the New York director who makes risky New York films. He rose to prominence in the industry after his first low-budget feature film, She’s Gotta Have It, grossed over $7 million at the box office. His production company, 40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks, has released over 35 movies, including controversial ones like Mo’ Better Blues, Summer of Sam and Bamboozled. Now something of a New York legend, the die-hard Knicks fan is still posing the discomfiting questions of the day. And he has paved the way for other filmmakers to do so, too.