“Ninety Americans die every day due to gun violence. This is no joke,” the “Chi-Raq” director tells TheWrap
Spike Lee is speaking out about President Barack Obama’s executive actions aimed at curbing gun violence as well as the politicians who oppose the President’s plan.
Lee visited Los Angeles Tuesday night for a special screening of his critically-acclaimed film “Chi-Raq” at ICM, and hosted what was billed as a “Pray 4 My City” reception.
In an interview with TheWrap, the director talked about the President’s speech earlier in the day, and how it echoed the message he is trying to convey with his film about Chicago gun violence.
“The film just came out at the perfect time, today President Obama talked about how people are being killed every day in Chicago,” Lee said. “Ninety Americans die every day due to gun violence. This is no joke.”
When asked his thoughts on members of Congress, particularly conservatives, who have spoken out against the President’s efforts to expand background checks for gun buyers, Lee offered a frank assessment.
“Those politicians, the conservatives, they’re in cahoots with the NRA and the gun manufacturers,” Lee said. “They’re making money, it’s blood money. I’m gonna say it — it’s blood money.”
“Chi-Raq,” a modern day adaptation of the ancient Greek play “Lysistrata” by Aristophanes, is set against the backdrop of soaring gang violence on Chicago’s South Side. The Amazon Studios release debuted on Dec. 4 in select theaters, and will be available for Prime subscribers to stream starting Feb. 4.
“It’s been great,” Lee said, about working with Amazon. “They believe in the project, you can’t hate on that. They supported the film and they got it out to the world. This is Amazon Studios’ first theatrical release, numero uno.”
Lee’s satirical take on gun violence stars John Cusack, Nick Cannon, Teyonah Parris, Samuel L. Jackson, Wesley Snipes, Jennifer Hudson and Angela Bassett. The director said he made the movie to raise awareness.
“It’s going to save lives, that was the number one goal,” he explained.
Lee was joined Tuesday night by Cannon, as they screened the film for industry insiders and Academy members, including president Cheryl Boone Isaacs.
In November, the director, whose previous films include “She’s Gotta Have It”(1986), “Do the Right Thing” (1989), “Malcolm X” (1992) and “Inside Man” (2006), received an Honorary Oscar from the Academy. On Tuesday night, the normally-serious Lee chatted with Academy members, posed for pictures and flashed a rare smile.
He admitted the past year has been an incredible journey.
“I became a tenured professor at NYU graduate film school,” he said. “I was Grand Marshal of the New York City Marathon, the block where we filmed ‘Do The Right Thing’ in Brooklyn was named ‘Do The Right Thing Way.’ It’s the first time that’s ever been done in the history of New York City.
“It’s been a great year.”