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.’”