CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - Spike Lee’s upcoming movie is named ‘Chiraq,’ but the director has other words to describe the City of Chicago.
Lee spent about six weeks filming his movie in Chicago, and now he's now talking about the experience. He notes that during the time filming, out of control gun violence never ceased.
Now, Lee says it’s his responsibility as a filmmaker to reflect the harsh reality of the crime in Chicago.
Some city leaders originally opposed the title ‘Chiraq,’ complaining it was invented by gang bangers to glorify their thug life violence.
But Lee says he has nothing to apologize for, now that he's seen first-hand that the city is at the tipping point.
Lee told Deadline.com that, while he was in Chicago, "young black men" continued killing each other in a "self-inflicted genocide." And he was struck by the racial isolation of many African-Americans in "one of the most segregated cities in the U.S."
“You be scared to come out your house to go to the grocery store! Scared of getting shot! So, ‘Chiraq’ fits,” said Rochelle Harris.
South Siders surrounded by the violence that Lee plans to depict have embraced his movie's provocative title.
“I feel like I’m in a war zone in the City of Chicago on the South Side,” said Terrah Cole, who lives near 47th Street.
FOX 32: And you were just grazed by a bullet two days ago?
“Grazed, Sunday night, up under the L, the Green Line,” Cole said.
In an interview with Deadline.com, the movie maker said, "We shot the film in Chicago, but here's the thing. It’s not all of Chicago. That’s why it reminds me of Charles Dickens’s ‘A Tale of Two Cities.’ The majority of the shootings and killings are on the South Side."
Lee added that, in just the six weeks he worked in Chicago, nearly 400 were shot: 331 wounded and 65 killed.
An alderman who once wanted to block any tax breaks for the movie now hopes Lee returns to town.
“It has the potential to add to the stigma of these neighborhoods. And that's why I’m hoping Spike Lee will use his resources that he garners from this movie to help those community development corporations and those organizations,” Alderman William Burns said.
One of Lee's biggest local fans was pleased the moviemaker from New York discussed the fact that African-American neighborhoods are more racially isolated in Chicago than in most other cities.
“Segregation is still reality. So, while we affirm the good things that have taken place, let's not live in denial of the reality that still exists,” said Father Michael Pfleger.
Lee told the interviewer one of his movie's messages will be that "guns are out of control in America." He called for "gun reform" laws, forecasting a tough fight against the NRA (National Rifle Association).
The mayor hopes the film will inspire a long-overdue conversation about the gun violence that claims too many lives in major cities around this country.
In a statement, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he hopes the film will inspire a long-overdue conversation about gun violence.
‘Chiraq’ will be the first original film to be released through Amazon Studios. Amazon plans to show ‘Chiraq’ first in theaters in December, so it will be eligible for the Oscars.
Then, Amazon will release ‘Chiraq’ online through its streaming service.