“Chi-Raq” is the latest film by Spike Lee. It is based on the play “Lysistrata” by Aristophanes. It stars Nick Cannon, Teyonah Parris, Wesley Snipes, Angela Bassett, Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Hudson, John Cusack, and Erica Watson.
The Knockturnal was on the red carpet for the New York premiere. Read our exclusive interviews below:
Q: How would you describe this movie to someone who doesn’t know anything about it?
Erica Watson: Oh my goodness! It’s so hard to capture what this film is in words. I really mean it! It’s not just because I’m in it. And it’s not just because I love Spike Lee so much. I would say it’s a beautiful work of art. It’s very high art. It’s extremely intelligent, and it plays to the top of art and intelligence in film. It’s just brilliantly done. People are watering it down by saying, ”oh, a bunch of girls in Chicago go on strike and don’t give their man any sex to prevent violence. That’ll never work.” But it’s really deeper than that and it is really about black women taking ownership of what’s going on in their communities and trying to make a change.
Q: Why would you recommend that people see this film?
EW: I’m from Chicago. Born and raised on the south side and two weeks ago I was robbed at gunpoint. A guy stole my purse and my cell phone. He jumped in the car with me and he pulled the trigger twice but it jammed, so I’m not even supposed to be here right now, and here I am, a working actress, master’s degree, middle-class and even I am affected by the violence in Chicago. It’s real. And I think that a film like this will bring light to the situation and shed light on what’s going on, but in a way that people can digest. It’s not in your face. It’s not pointing fingers. It really is about healing and love
Q: What’s it like to work with Spike Lee?
EW: Oh my God! Listen, I went to film school because I wanted to be Spike Lee. They used to call me Spike E. back in the day. I applied to NYU and didn’t get in. But nevertheless, working with him was a dream come true. How often do actors from Chicago get to work with a director that’s this monumental. He is a genius. It was beautiful to work with him. It basically made me want to step up my game. Now that I’ve acted for Spike Lee, I can’t do just any old rinky-dink movie
Q: Why should people check this movie out?
Wesley Snipes: Why shouldn’t they?
Q: How about this: what makes this movie special?
WS: The message, the purpose, the cast, and the creative minds of Kevin and Spike.
Q: What do you hope people take away from this movie?
Spike Lee: That we have to really work harder to stop people from being killed by gun violence in this country.
After the screening there was an anti-gun violence protest led by Spike Lee, Reverend Al Sharpton and Father Michael Pfleger. The film hits theaters Dec. 4.