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Spike Lee Has Some Words for the Chiraq Naysayers

Spike Lee. Photo: Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Variety

Spike Lee finally has something to say about his Chiraq movie (yeah, the one that unfortunately doesn’t have Kanye West anymore), but it’s mostly directed at the film’s premature critics. “Artists I love,” he said at a press conference Thursday, “they hold a mirror up to what is happening in the world, and they do that with no fear. If you have fear then how are you gonna tell the truth?” Chiraq has reportedly drawn criticism from local politicians (including Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel) for the project’s name, as well as the film’s content, which has to do with the city’s gang and gun violence in a musical comedy format that’s supposed to look like a modern twist on Aristophanes’s Lysistrata. “This film’s not about Chicago losing business,” Lee added, noting that the film will deal with real-life drama in Chicago in a sensitive way. “Let’s not put property and profit over human life … Everything I’ve done has led up to this film.”

John Cusack, who has a spot in the movie and was born in Evanston, stood up for the film, too. “I am 100 percent sure that the great city of Chicago can survive a film of conscience, just like it did Transformers,” the actor said, according to the Wrap. “I love my city of Chicago — all of Chicago … and I would never do anything to hurt it. I’m very proud to be in this film.” Cusack also said he hasn’t noticed much actual controversy attached to the film, just the manufactured political controversy that’s been buzzing in some media reports. “You don’t like it, you don’t like,” Lee said in closing. “But wait, see it first.”

Here’s Lee at Thursday’s press conference (his first time addressing the movie in public):

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Spike Lee Has Words for the Chiraq Naysayers