*”No peace! No p*ssy!”
Iconic filmmaker Spike Lee re-images a Greek satire in “Chi-Raq.” Set against the backdrop of Chicago’s deadly wars, a gang leader’s gorgeous girlfriend persuades the women of the city to boycott sex until the violence ends.
EUR: “Chi-Raq” is an adaptation of an ancient Greek play…
Spike Lee: 411 B.C.! Written by the Greek playwright Aristophanes, the play is called “Lysistrata.” And Leymah Gbowee won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 for stopping the second Liberian Civil War, using the same tactic. No peace, no p*ssy!
EUR: How effective would this generation be at generating peace, if they went on a sex strike?
Spike Lee: Say there was a school or a university with a lot of date rapes. I think a college campus is perfect for a sex strike. What’s the most radical? Cal Berkeley! University of Missouri! They just turned shit around there and made the president resign! And the chancellor!
Wesley Snipes: I wouldn’t put anything past this generation. I wouldn’t think so! Now how long it would last…I don’t know. If you can keep the money out of it, then you got a greater chance of being successful. The money is an un-equalizer. The money changes the rules real quick!
John Cusack: It is referenced in the film, but it has happened in Africa. Who knows…You have to be a little bit naive and terrifying if you feel like you can change human nature. I don’t believe at our deepest core it is in our nature to kill ourselves and to destroy each other. So, I think everything is possible.
EUR: What’s in a title?
John Cusack: The title is very provocative, but the fact is there were more people killed in Chicago than people were killed in the arm forces in Iraq and the name Chi-Raq was not made up by Spike Lee it was being said on the streets of Chicago. Unfortunately, art has to be not just a mirror held up to reflect society but it has to be a hammer with which to shape culture, and if you don’t believe art can have an effect on change then one shouldn’t be in the film business. Well, the film arts because there is show business and then there is art. And Spike is trying to make art and find the line with the business. He said to me, “the only reason to make this film, is if we can help save lives.” That is a very honorable, noble thing to do. So, if a couple of rich people in Chicago are offended by the title and they are worried about tourism…well those tourism buses aren’t going to 78th and Holsten, so I think the great city of Chicago will survive a film on conscious.
Spike Lee: I wish people would stop using the word controversy because it’s a label, it’s lazy! It is just lazy. Everything is not normal…controversial, controversial filmmaker, controversial artist. You know? It’s a cheap label. I do not film, my film subject saying, “what’s the next controversial movie I can make?” No! It’s storytelling, what story do I tell..that’s how I approach it.
“Chi-Raq” will be released in limited theaters on December 4, with the film premiering on Amazon Instant Video shortly after
Click here for local listings.