Spike Lee is set to release a new film set around present-day embattled Chicago, reports TheWrap. The Oscar-nominated director is reportedly interested in casting a few of the town’s well-known residents in the upcoming film, including controversial rapper Kanye West, Common and actor Jeremy Piven, in addition to frequent collaborator Samuel L. Jackson.
Lee is working with Amazon Studios to make the film, currently titled ‘Chiraq.’ Details of the plot are unknown at this point. However, news of the movie has already caused a bit of controversy in the city, which earned its moniker due to the disconcerting level of violence that has plagued the town in recent years.
“I was clear that I was not happy about the title. I told [Spike] also that there are very good people that live in Englewood who are raising their family and there’s a lot of positive things that are happening in Englewood mainly driven by the people that make up Englewood,” said the city’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently to the Chicago Tribune.
Emanuel reportedly met with Lee at City Hall out of concern that the film would sensationalize the city’s plight and unfairly cast a dark shadow on the entire area overall, much like the moniker Chiraq has already done to an extent.
“He did say the movie would take on the subject of black-on-black violence, specifically African-American male to African-American male violence, and how it’s affecting the community and what goes on,” he added. “I said then, and I believe, that’s an important conversation to have. Given you’re a great artist, while I don’t support the title and I don’t like the working title, the topic is a conversation that has been ignored for too long and needs to be discussed.”
According to the Chicago Sun Times, Far South Side alderman Anthony Beale and Senator Dick Durbin have also expressed concern over the title and forthcoming film.