All Articles Tagged "spike lee"

Do You Think Sex Strikes On College Campuses Could Reduce Sexual Assault? Spike Lee Does

November 28th, 2015 - By Ashley Monaé
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In anticipation of his new film Chiraq, prolific director Spike Lee is making his promotion rounds and spreading the word about the importance of a film as such in current times.

Recently, Lee stopped by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and discussed everything from the film’s basis to the controversy surrounding it. Interestingly, Lee spoke out on both gun control and his thoughts on rape and sexual assault on college campuses and how it can be reduced — which was met with favorable applause.

“With what’s happening on college campuses, with the University of Missouri when the football players got together and said if the president doesn’t resign, we’re not going to play,” Lee said. “I think that a sex strike could really work on college campuses, where there’s an abundance of sexual harassment and date rape. College campuses and universities, second semester I think it’ll happen.”

While I understand Lee’s idea of coming to together and spreading a message to the masses in hopes of making a change, rape and sexual assault can’t simply be changed just by deciding to go on a sex strike, as it’s something that happens by force. Don’t most if not all victims say no with no consent?

Interestingly, Chiraq was derived from the Greek play Lysistrata, where a group of Chicago women band together and decide to withhold sex from their husbands and boyfriends in hopes of ending the violence that has taken the city under siege. So, there’s definitely a correlation between the two.

What are your thoughts? Do you believe on campus sex strikes could be effective in curbing violence and sexual assault? Press play and watch the interview above.

Spike Lee Says He Partnered With Amazon For ‘Chi-Raq’ Because “Everyone Else Said No”

November 15th, 2015 - By Ashley Monaé
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Over the summer we reported that Spike Lee’s highly-criticized film Chi-Raq would be Amazon’s first-feature length film. Now, the heralded director is speaking out on how exactly the deal, which will release the film exclusively to Amazon subscribers, came about.

Amazon has built a great empire as an online retailer, but the its name and reputation alone didn’t sway Lee to sign the deal. Actually, Amazon was the only one in support of the film. “All it takes is one yes. You get a bunch of motherf**king no’s, but all it takes is one yes,” he said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

Lee, who is known for theatrical presentations that depict the black community, is no stranger to being embroiled in controversy. However, when the mini trailers of Chi-Raq, a purely parody film based on the reoccurring violence in the inner-city of Chicago, surfaced most weren’t interested in the production. Some even denounced the film, saying that it would be more hurtful to the city than empowering or invoking change — hints the title’s Iraq play-on words.

Even still, the critics aren’t breaking Lee’s confidence as he’s standing firmly behind the forthcoming project that will be released on Dec. 4.

Continue reading Lee’s interview with THR below as he speaks on his goal for Chi-Raq, independent filmmaking and more.

How has independent filmmaking changed since you started?
That might as well have been a million years ago. Filmmakers like Jim [Jarmusch] and I, the only reason we went to film school was because of the equipment. We didn’t care about the MFA. You went to film school to get the equipment. Now students look at the cost of going to schools and say, “I could use that money to buy my own camera and lighting kit.” It’s a new world.

Is there a project that never got made that you someday hope to go back to?
A lot of them. I was supposed to direct [a film about] Jackie Robinson. I was supposed to direct [one about] James Brown, too. It just didn’t work out. I have a script I wrote with Budd Schulberg, about [boxers] Joe Louis and Max Schmeling. And unfortunately he died before we got it done. I made a promise, so one day we’re getting this film done. We’re doing it for Budd.

Your next film, ‘Chi-Raq,’ about Chicago gun violence, is going to be Amazon’s first feature release Dec. 4.
They’re a great company. And also everyone else said no.

Why did other companies pass?
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?
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?
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?

“Don’t Get It Twisted”: Spike Lee Addresses Critics Of Chi-raq Trailer Who Say It Makes Light Of Violence In Chicago

November 6th, 2015 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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The trailer for Spike Lee’s upcoming film, Chi-raq, came out on Wednesday. In no time flat, people had quite a bit to say about the visuals, which lasted for only two minutes and 34 seconds. Many Chicagoans, including some well-known ones, criticized the film, assuming it was making light of a very serious problem in the city and around the country–gun violence. The film was shot in the city this past summer and will have a limited release in December, but before folks get the wrong idea about the movie and its message and slam it, Lee has stepped forward to make it clear that Chi-raq is about “serious business.”

Before releasing a new version of the trailer, which definitely has a more serious tone, Lee addressed critics of the trailer, and Chicago residents, in general, who weren’t pleased.

“The trailer was released, and there are very humorous moments in the trailer. Now, some people are getting it twisted and thinking this is a comedy. Chi-raq is not a comedy. Chi-raq is a satire. And there’s a difference between humor and comedy. In no way, shape or form are we not respectful of the situation that is happening in Chi-raq. In no way, shape or form are we making light of the lives that have been murdered with this senseless violence. So, people, don’t get it twisted. This film is about serious business. There are many films that we can look at in history in American cinema that treated a very serious subject matter and had humor in them.

There’s an old statement: ‘I got to laugh to keep from crying.’ Well, I think that’s apropos with Chi-raq. Don’t get it twisted. Don’t get it twisted.”

And while no one knows how the full story will play out just yet, according to reports, it is loosely based on Aristophanes’s “Lysistrata.” That classic comedy is about a woman named Lysistrata who persuades the women in Greece to withhold sex from the men in their lives as a way to force them to live peacefully and end the Peloponnesian War. For Chi-raq, Teyonah Parris plays that leading character, and the events of the play are shifted from Greece to the South Side of Chicago. The Peloponnesian War is swapped out for the gun violence plaguing that part of the city.

Lee is no stranger to satire. Films like School Daze and Bamboozled used humor to shed light and even ridicule issues we still face today (and people), including colorism and race matters in America. Indeed, satirical films aren’t for everybody, but it’s recommended that people not make any final conclusions (considering that many missed the satire in the original trailer) based on these short visuals. In comparison, I would say that Lee probably should have left the first trailer to stand on its own instead of trying to appease others–including a few people who just like to rip things to shreds because they have nothing better to do.

Just saying.

Check out Lee’s message to the people below and share your thoughts. Which trailer do you prefer?


Original trailer:

First Look: Spike Lee’s “Chiraq” Trailer Released

November 4th, 2015 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
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First Look: Spike Lee's "Chiraq" Trailer Released


Amazon has debuted Spike Lee’s Chiraq trailer exactly one month before the film’s December 4 release. The project, which has attracted its share of controversy, is described by IMDB as “a modern day adaptation of the ancient Greek play Lysistrata by Aristophanes, set against the backdrop of gang violence in Chicago.”

The film’s stars include Nicki Cannon, Teyonah Parris, Wesley Snipes, Samuel L. Jackson, Angela Bassett, Jennifer Hudson, and Lala Anthony—just to name a few.

In the satirical film, Parris plays Lysistrata, who spearheads a sex strike among women in the Chicago, Illinois community in hopes of putting an end to gun violence.

Chiraq‘s limited release is scheduled for December 4, after which, it will be made available via Amazon Instant Video.

Peep the trailer below.

Doing The Right Thing: Spike Lee Receives Honorary Oscar Award

August 28th, 2015 - By Chelcee Johns
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The 8th Annual 'Made In NY Awards' at Gracie Mansion Featuring: Spike Lee Where: New York City, NY, United States When: 10 Jun 2013 Credit: HRC/


Iconic director Spike Lee has brought authentic Black stories to the big screen for years and his transcending work is being honored by the Academy Awards this fall. Announced Thursday, Lee will soon be the only African American to take home the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.

The Board of Governors presents the award “to honor extraordinary distinction in lifetime achievement, exceptional contributions to the state of motion picture arts and sciences, or for outstanding service,” noted USA Today.

Lee has definitely done all of the above in the movies and the streets, where he can often be found hosting Brooklyn block parties and marching for civil rights on any given day.

“I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to express the views of black people who otherwise don’t have access to power and the media. I have to take advantage of that while I’m still bankable,” said Lee in Do the Right Thing: A Spike Lee Joint.

The gifted director will receive his honorary Oscar at the 7th Annual Governors Awards on Saturday, November 14 in Hollywood.

Lee is, of course, no stranger to the Academy Awards. In 1983, his breakout film and NYU thesis Joe’s Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads won a Student Academy Award and the creator hasn’t stopped since.

“What’s the difference between Hollywood characters and my characters? Mine are real,” said Lee on what sets him apart in The Secret Lives of Filmmakers. It’s this distinction that has kept Lee in the game for so long.

“The board is proud to recognize our honorees’ remarkable contributions,” said Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Academy president, in a statement. “We’ll be celebrating their achievements with the knowledge that the work they have accomplished – with passion, dedication and a desire to make a positive difference – will also enrich future generations.”

Lee earned an original screenplay Oscar nomination for 1989’s Do The Right Thing and another nomination for directing the 1997 documentary 4 Little Girls. However, this will be the artist’s first time taking home an Oscar, though he has received numerous other awards.

Aside from making films, Lee is also the artistic director of the graduate film program at NYU.

“You gotta make your own way. You gotta find a way. You gotta get it done. It’s hard. It’s tough. That’s what I tell my students every day in class,” Lee told IndieWire.

We hear and celebrate you!

Bet You Didn’t Know: Secrets Behind The Making Of “Mo’ Better Blues”

August 3rd, 2015 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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Today marks the 25th anniversary of one of my favorite films, Mo’ Better Blues. It had all the things necessary to make it a must-see: Denzel, Wesley, and jazz music. And while critics weren’t exactly in love with the project, it’s a beloved film that many Spike Lee fans can watch over and over again. I might just watch it tonight!

Anywho, in honor of the film’s anniversary, here are some secrets behind the making of the movie.

Spike Lee’s “Chi-Raq” Will Be Amazon’s First Feature Film

July 15th, 2015 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Spike Lee


While Amazon battles its “Christmas In July” sale competition with Walmart, the prominent online marketer announced Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq film will be its first feature-length film.

Based on the reoccurring violence in the inner-city of the Chicago, Lee’s cast includes Nick Cannon, Jennifer Hudson, Common, Wesley Snipes and John Cusack— some of whom grew up in the city. Despite the criticism the film has received for its title (a slang word used to describe the level of violence and conflict in the city), Amazon reports filming finished last week. Many politicians believe it will be hurtful to Chicago’s tourism, although they fail to address ways to better its on-going gun violence situation.

This past January, Amazon began planning to produce a dozen films this year in the hopes of creating distribution deals with traditional theaters. It also plans to release those same movies on its Prime streaming video service a month or two after it releases in theaters. The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon’s aggressive approach may help them with their leading competitor Netflix who has several hit original content films and shows.

Prior to Spike Lee, Amazon launched deals with Woody Allen and Doonesbury comic strip creator Garry Trudeau.

“See It First!” Spike Lee Responds Defends His Upcoming Film “Chiraq”

May 15th, 2015 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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Spike Lee is responding to critics of his latest movie project Chiraq by asking everyone to wait and see what he has in mind before judging it prematurely.  Ever since the film project was announced, it has rubbed Windy City residents the wrong way — including Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Chiraq, a blend of “Iraq” and “Chicago,” is an unfortunate nickname that the Windy City picked up due to its reputation for high crime and violence. With the word Chiraq splashed across a film created by a well-known director, community leaders are up in arms about the title claiming that it could affect tourism.

But Spike Lee is defending Chiraq, a musical comedy based on the city’s gun violence, and refuses to budge on the title.

“Let’s not put property and profit over human life,” Lee said, tackling critics who fear for the film’s impact on city revenue.

“A lot of things have been said about this film [from] people who know nothing about the film. A lot of people have opinions about the so-called title of the film, again, [they] know nothing about the film. So we felt it was appropriate that we say what the narrative is. The filmmakers – not the people just judging from afar,” Lee said at a press conference on Thursday.

Several speakers, including actor John Cusack, who has a role in the film, advocated for Chiraq.

“Spike called me up and told me what he was up to. We met, he looked me in the eye, and he said, ‘Johnny, the only reason to do this film is to help save lives.’ The film is set in Chicago, but it could easily be any urban American city where poverty, violence, and desperation are so ever present. This film stands at a long and fine tradition of American films of conscience,” Cusack said.

Kevin Wilmott, Lee’s co-writer, assured residents that this film will be about hope, peace, justice and “taking ownership of the problem.”

Lee is moving ahead with Chiraq and reportedly wants to cast to  Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Piven, and Common. Rumors were swirling that Kanye West would be a part of the cast, but the rapper’s camp shut that down. However, he might be  part of the film’s soundtrack.

In closing, Lee said: “You don’t like it, you don’t like [it]. But wait, see it first.”

Spike Lee’s Upcoming Film ‘Chiraq’ Rubbing Some In Chicago The Wrong Way

April 10th, 2015 - By Ann Brown
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Spike Lee’s film projects can always be assured of inciting some sort of reaction, whether it be controversy or inspiration. His upcoming project, a film on Chicago, is proving to be no different. To be called Chiraq, there is already some conversation about the term.

Some residents and community leaders are concerned that the negativity associated with the term “Chiraq” — a combination of “Chicago” and “Iraq” and calling attention to the city’s violent reputation — could affect tourism, scaring tourists from visiting the city that already has to contend with is image of violence.

It’s really concerned local rapper Aaron Pierce, who has launched an “Anti-Chiraq” social media campaign. “That name does not really give us a positive look. That name belittles our city and I feel like it dehumanizes us.  We are from Chicago. It is not like Iraq,” says Pierce, who also runs a mentoring program for public school students.

Lee meanwhile is moving ahead with the film and word is he wants to cast Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Piven, Common, and Kanye West. No other details about the film have been released.

Lee didn’t create the term and Chicago has had negative nicknames before, including “Beirut on the Lake” in the 1980s to “Chiberia” during the winter of 2013-14.

“Chiraq” has been used for years but became popular in 2012 when Chicago saw a major rise in homicides.

But despite a drop in crime and violence, both are still major issues in Chicago. There were 407 homicides in 2014. “In the first three months of a cold and snowy 2015, shootings jumped 40 percent and homicides rose about 26 percent compared with the year-earlier period, Police Department statistics show,” reports The Chicago Tribune.

Do you think the term “Chiraq” is offensive?

Celebrity Kickstarters: 15 Winning and Losing Stars

April 6th, 2015 - By Rich
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Some of these celebrity kickstarters soared (hello TLC!) while others totally flopped. Click through to see who cashed out!

All images courtesy of WENN, except where noted

Sources: PopSugar, The Richest

Celebrity Kickstarters: 15 Winning and Losing Stars