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Kickstart This: ‘Spook Who Sat By The Door’ Documentarians Re-Team To Tell A Nuanced Story About Chicago Youth

Kickstart This: 'Spook Who Sat By The Door' Documentarians Re-Team To Tell A Nuanced Story About Chicago Youth

Christine Acham and Clifford Ward, known for their 2011 documentary “Infiltrating Hollywood: The Rise and Fall of The Spook Who Sat By The Door,” are back at work on another feature film set in Chicago, this time looking at the plague of gun violence among Chicago youth. 

The new film, “A Dream Dispersed,” seeks to tell a nuanced story of the people who live and work in Chicago’s inner city neighborhoods, in their own words. The documentary is to be filmed over a year and will follow a community program that mentors “at risk” youth in some of the city’s most troubled neighborhoods. 

Says Acham of the project: 

We are working specifically with two local Chicago community groups – YAP Chicago and the Near West Side Community Development Corp – so we are making sure that it is a very community based film. We want to give context to what is happening in Chicago, looking at the people who are working to make things better, but also understand the underlying issues that have created the situation in the first place.  It is an ambiguous project but something that we are very passionate about. Cliff is from Chicago and has lost family members and friends through the violence in the city and he wanted to do something for his community.  

I had been seeing a lot of the coverage about the Spike Lee film and the community’s feelings about his use of the term “Chiraq” and in a sense the fear of the idea of someone coming in from the outside to make a project about Chicago and the potential for misrepresentation.  

What is interesting is that, as the Chicago outsider in our directing pair, I had asked Cliff about the possibility of using the title when we were originally thinking about the documentary.  It is a very visual term that expresses some disturbing realities and would clearly capture the attention of audience outside of Chicago that did not know about what was happening in the city. 

He rejected it immediately, and in exploring it with other Chicago folks that we had begun to speak with about the project it was also clear that so many locals had such negative feelings about the word that it would not be the right fit for us, as we were trying to give a voice to the people of Chicago and tell their story. 

What we have found in all of our early interviews is a skepticism of the media, people who come in and do a story that grabs attention and then leaves without it having any impact on the people. I think having a filmmaker from the city has helped us to overcome some of those initial barriers and people have begun to let us in.”

Ward and Acham have taken to Kickstarter to raise $35,000 for the project over the next month. Find their campaign video below, followed by a link to donate: 

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