Spike Lee defends ‘Chi-Raq’ on ‘Windy City Live’

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In an exclusive interview, filmmaker Spike Lee discussed the continued controversy surrounding his upcoming film “Chi-Raq,” on today’s telecast of “Windy City Live.” The film, set for theatrical release Dec. 4, has received criticism over its title and more recently scenes in its trailer.

Some excerpts from the interview:

On what he hopes the film will convey:

“We’re trying to shed light on what’s happening here. … What we want to do with this film is ask people to be honest and stop putting their heads in the sand and act like it’s not happening. I hope [the film] sparks discussion, dialogue on how we can give our young people hope. These young guys they don’t have any hope. They don’t have any value on life, so then they don’t value anybody else.”

On critics who’ve blasted him for being an out-of-towner making the film:

“Why hasn’t a Chicago filmmaker done a film? I’m a professor at NYU Film School. … I have students who’ve made feature films on their iPhones. All these people talking smack? [Lee holds up a cell phone] You could make your own film.”

On what he learned that really surprised him during the research phase of the film project:

“Something that really astounded me is one of major reasons kids get shot is social media. [Social media] drives much of the violence. What people post on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram can get you killed.”

On the title, and why he did not change it even after Mayor Emanuel publicly expressed his displeasure with the title (Lee said he has not spoken to the mayor since):

“Why should I?”

Does he plan on talking to the mayor?

“When I invite him to the premiere. He can sit right next to me.”

On the crisis of violence in Chicago:

“We have to do something, because whatever they’ve been trying is not working. I’m not there to say whose fault it is. We have to come together: black, white, brown, whatever. … [The violence] is not just Chicago. Where I’m from in Brooklyn, [also] the Bronx, New York City, Baltimore, Philly, New Orleans, [Washington] D.C. It’s not just Chicago.”

On Father Michael Pfleger, who supports the film and upon whom a character in the film is based:

“I knew I would have to have an inroad, someone who’s well-respected [in the community], who could connect me with who I had to speak with [to research the film]. I was here months before we started shooting, meeting with people and getting information. … In the film, Father Pfleger is credited as spiritual adviser and consultant. He’s a living saint. The man is a giant. He’s out here fighting for you every day. … He told me, ‘I’m getting tired of burying children.’ So, people, this film is not a joke. It’s not a comedy. It’s a satire.”

Watch the entire interview here.

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