*The Electronic Urban Report/EUR recently attended a screening of Spike Lee‘s latest film, “Chi-Raq.” It’s a modern day adaptation of the ancient Greek play Lysistrata by Aristophanes, set against the backdrop of gang violence in Chicago.
Teyonah Parris stars as the sexy girlfriend of a gang leader (played by Nick Cannon), who convinces women to abstain from sex in order to persuade their significant others to end gang violence in Chicago.
Lee has faced much criticism since the film was announced, and now the controversial director is revealing that he had a hard time selling the project to major studios – which inevitably led his decision to release the film exclusively to Amazon subscribers.
Spike discussed his Amazon deal with The Hollywood Reporter/THR, in which he says that real change to ending gang violence in Chicago begins with legislation. He also explained how he’s aiming to save lives with “Chi-Raq.”
Below are highlights from the interview.
Your next film, ‘Chi-Raq,’ about Chicago gun violence, is going to be Amazon’s first feature release Dec. 4.
SPIKE: They’re a great company. And also everyone else said no.
Why did other companies pass?
SPIKE: They never give you a reason; they just say, “It’s not for us.” My co-writer Kevin Willmott and I wrote the script and went to Sundance and everybody was saying no, no, no, no, no. Amazon said yes. I tell my students, “All it takes is one yes. You get a bunch of motherf—ing nos, but all it takes is one yes.”
‘Chi-raq’ is planned for an awards run. What’s your goal with this film?
SPIKE: It’s really not about awards. I’m going to save lives. There’s people being shot on the streets of Chicago daily. It’s not just Chicago, it’s happening in cities all over America. It’s happening in L.A., New York — what’s Baltimore called? Bodymore, Murderland. What’s Philadelphia called? Killadelphia. There’s a major part of this film that’s about guns in our country. What is it going to take for we as people, and supposedly the most civilized country on Earth, to stop this madness? The NRA is not bigger than the United States of America.
How can real change happen?
SPIKE: Legislation. How is it that somebody can go in our states, like Oregon, and buy — why is a store selling an assault weapon? You don’t even hunt with an assault weapon. Why are they being sold?