CHICAGO (CBS) — Filmmaker Spike Lee was returning to Chicago on Thursday to answer questions about his controversial new film “Chiraq,” and explain the movie’s intent.
Lee plans to set his movie in Englewood, one of several violence-plagued neighborhoods that have earned the nickname “Chiraq.” Some feel that name—a blend of Chicago and war-torn Iraq—furthers negative perceptions about the city. However, supporters have said Lee’s film could potentially expose real problems in some of Chicago’s most violent neighborhoods.READ MORE: Jussie Smollett Trial: Lead Detective In Investigation Explains On Witness Stand How Smollett Went From Victim To Suspect
The filmmaker was set to hold a press conference Thursday morning at St. Sabina Parish – along with actor John Cusack and St. Sabina pastor Rev. Michael Pfleger – to discuss the movie’s intent.
Approximately 5,000 people turned out at St. Sabina Academy last weekend to audition for the movie. According to Screen Daily, the movie will be a musical comedy, and a remake of the Greek comedy “Lysistrata,” in which a woman tries to stop the Peloponnesian War by convincing women to withhold sex from their husbands until the fighting stops.
Pfleger has said he supports Lee’s movie.
“The killing in Chicago and around the Country by both Police and Black on Black crime is Unacceptable, and it’s real,” Pfleger said in a recent Facebook post. “If Spike Lee has the courage and God knows the talent to dig into this Black on Black Crime and try to bring about a Healing and Solution…THANK GOD.”READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Slight Chance For Rain Wednesday Morning, Warmer During Day
Pfleger said he trusts Lee, based on his overall body of film work. He said people worried about tourism should do more to push for economic development in troubled neighborhoods.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel has said he is “not happy about the title,” and has spoken to Lee about the “Chiraq” label, which has been slapped on the city by rappers and spread through social media because of gun violence in some Chicago neighborhoods including Englewood, where Lee plans to set his movie.
“I told him there were very good people in Englewood who are raising their families,” Emanuel said last month. “There are very good people in Englewood.”
Emanuel says Lee told him he wants his film to be a serious examination of black-on-black violence. The mayor told reporters that’s an important topic that needs to be discussed, though Emanuel said again, he doesn’t like the film’s title.MORE NEWS: Bulls Surprise Kelly College Prep Girls' Basketball Team With Afternoon Tournament
One alderman has called for denying Lee $3 million in tax credits unless he changes the name of the film, but the director has said he won’t change the title.