Amazon Studios has set the release date for Spike Lee’s much-discussed next joint, “Chi-Raq,” for December 4, 2015 in a theatrical release deal that involves both Roadside Attractions and Lionsgate (noteworthy as both have previously teamed up on prestige film fare).
The film’s cast includes rising star Teyonah Parris and multihyphenate and Nick Cannon, as well as lauded veterans like Angela Bassett, Samuel L. Jackson, John Cusack, Harry Lennix, Steve Harris, Wesley Snipes, and D.B. Sweeney. Singer/actress Jennifer Hudson also features.
“Chi-Raq” is a modern day adaptation of the ancient Greek play “Lysistrata” by Aristophanes. After the murder of a child by a stray bullet, a group of women led by Lysistrata (played by Parris) organize against the on-going violence in Chicago’s Southside, creating a movement that challenges the nature of race, sex and violence in America and around the world.
Spike Lee directed the film from a screenplay he co-wrote with Kevin Willmott (writer and director of the woefully underseen 2004 mockumentary, “C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America”) – an effort to shed light on the very serious, but often overlooked issue of violence in inner city Chicago.
At the time of the film’s pickup by Amazon Studios, Ted Hope, Head of Motion Picture Production, said, “Spike Lee is one of the most distinct and visionary filmmakers of our time. It would be impossible to find a better filmmaker with whom to launch our studio. He has a unique voice, a distinct eye, and he tackles important subjects with humor and heart, pointing to solutions and not exploiting the problems. ‘Chi-Raq’ may be his greatest, and definitely his boldest film yet–everything about it is distinctive.”
Spike Lee added: “I’m honored to be part of the film that will launch Amazon Studios and to tell a story that is so important. Please don’t be fooled by the title of ‘Chi-Raq.’ This new Spike Lee joint will be something very special.”
As noted, although it has yet to be released, the film has been at the center of much debate, at first over the use of the portmanteau “Chi-Raq” as its title, and currently, criticism of the still unseen film based solely on its recently-released trailer.
Spike Lee has been candid about all the controversy surrounding “Chi-Raq,” directly addressing the uproar, emphasizing that it is indeed a serious film – a work of satire that’s essentially designed to shake up the status quo: “People, this film is not a joke,” Lee has said repeatedly.
With December 4 looming, everyone will finally get to actually see “Chi-Raq” and hopefully then have informed discussions on its merits.
Ahead of its release, embedded below, check out a new clip from the film featuring Teyonah Parris, Nick Cannon, Michelle Mitchenor and Wesley Snipes: