Reports of Spike Lee’s new ‘Chiraq’ film causing controversy already

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CHICAGO -- Oscar nominated director Spike Lee is bringing his next movie to Chicago.

He'll be turning his focus on the city's ongoing problems with violence.

According to reports, Spike Lee is in talks with Chicagoans Jeremy Piven, Kanye West and Common, along with Samuel L. Jackson for an ensemble cast of his next, and already controversial film, “Chiraq.”

While very few details about the film are being released, Lee was spotted on the South Side Sunday at St. Sabina church. Well-known church pastor Father Michael Pfleger also noted on his Facebook page in January Lee spent a long day there “talking and interviewing people who cover the violence, principals who deal with violence in and around their schools, brothers from the blocks who live it every day and parents who lost their children to violence.”

Hearing the news about the film is upsetting to longtime community activist Andrew Holmes, not only of because of the name “Chiraq,” but also because of the idea the parents who have lost kids to gun violence will have to live it again.

“I see bloodshed, people shot in the head, their heart is out on the concrete,” Holmes said. “Don’t come and make money off of what’s going on here with these kids that are deceased cause it’s hurting these parents.”

Holmes says gang members take pride in the term “Chiraq” and making a movie with its title only glorifies the violence they bring to city streets. Unless every dime generated by highlighting it goes to stopping it, putting it on film won’t do anyone any good.

Perception could also a big problem with the film says psychiatrist and author Dr. Carl Bell,a leading researcher with National Institute of Mental Health.

“It causes people to have stereotypes and myths,” he said. “…My concern is people will mistake it for reality.”

Dr. Bell says the reality is homicides in Chicago are down significantly over the last decade but that is not what will stick with people thinking about visiting the city of Chicago.

“This is not ‘Chiraq.’ We have some problems like any other city with gun violence but we don’t need to be labeled ‘Chiraq.’”

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7 comments

  • Stu Pidasso

    Thank you Mr. Lee for making some attention to the problem! For some reasons the bodies that keep piling up don’t really speak for themselves.

  • Fire0024

    “Mistake it for reality” — It is reality, these aren’t stereotypes or myths. Doctor you are part of the problem.

  • Wow

    Anytime you have a young man come back to CHICAGO from IRAQ and get killed–than this city should be known as Chiraq! Mr. Lee, make your movie. Use real life people in the movie. Put people to work in the community while your here shooting the film. Show the world how mothers are losing their son’s to streets. Show the nation what Chicago is really dealing with.

  • No....

    You people are being idiotic if you think it’s acceptable for another New Yorker to promote, another negative nickname for Chicago. God! as if Second City and Midwest titles weren’t bad enough! I’m sick of New Yorkers telling our stories in order to project how they think it is. But most of all, I’m sick of people from this region being stupid enough to allow it.

    Why couldn’t Spike Lee do an elaborate feature film of satire. Why a documentary? Why is he even doing this movie? None of these New Yorkers ever gave this city the time of day unless they are trying to mock it.
    Wake up CHICAGO! Start taking charge of yourself and the the Great Lakes.

  • Michelle Shelton Huff

    It is so sad that when we “ChiRaq The TV Series” entire cast born and raised in Chicago actors/ directors/ writers/…. contacted the media on this POSITIVE SHOW what support did we receive NOTHING…CRICKETS FROM THE MEDIA, but as soon as Hollywood comes knocking every media outlet is pushing this story …ChiRaq The Series has done two movie theater showings Down Town Chicago and South Side 2014 & 2015…two sold out shows, but no media ONLY FOX NEWS, Darlene Hill was supportive of the project to have the lead cast and executive producers Rodger Jackson appear on the show smh… http://www.chiraqtheseries.com I am not upset with Spike Lee for doing a movie called Chiraq..he is a director and he likes to discuss issues in the community… no one was upset when Robert Redford did a documentary on “Chiraq” or HBO’s Vice did one on “Chiraq” …. I am upset with the media… seems like if it is positive it is not news worthy #chiraqtheseries

  • Isaiah

    They’re not upset because it will remind the parents of their lost ones, they’re upset because this movie is the truth. Clean up the streets then, and we won’t have to worry about movies like this. I support your movie Spike Lee.