Prominent officials in Chicago have raised concerns with a film being produced by renowned director Spike Lee. The concerns include the working film’s name and a $3 million tax break.
The Chicago Tribune reported Mayor Rahm Emanuel met with Lee Wednesday to discuss his film documenting violence on Chicago’s south side, specifically the neighborhood of Englewood.
During the meeting, Emanuel conveyed his displeasure with the film’s working title, Chiraq, a portmanteau combining ‘Chicago’ and ‘Iraq’ and a term popularized in the hip-hop scene. “He said the movie is about the neighborhood of Englewood. I was clear that I was not happy about the title,” Emanuel said at a press conference.
I told him also that there are very good people who live in Englewood who are raising their family. There’s a lot of positive things happening in Englewood, mainly driven by the people that make up Englewood.
The former chief of staff to President Barack Obama said Lee did recognize Chicago was not the only violent city in the U.S. during their meeting. “It’s happening in Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York, where he’s from. He talked about a name of a part of Brooklyn where he’s from. He talked about how Philadelphia’s referred to. He talked about how Baltimore’s referred to,” Emanuel added.
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While the recently re-elected mayor did not say whether Lee would agree to changing the film’s title, he did say it would tackle important issues including black-on-black violence:
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.
Chicago Alderman Will Burns Wednesday also slammed the ‘Chiraq’ title. “For people who live on the South and West Sides who pay their taxes, are active in block clubs and work to make their neighborhoods better, it’s a slap in the face,” Burns said.
South Siders and West Siders already walk around with a massive chip on their shoulders. There’s a sense the media only comes to cover dead bodies and not the positive things that happen every day. And why is this guy from New York coming to do a movie about Chicago?
Passed in December 2008 by the Illinois General Assembly, the tax credit offers filmmakers a 30 percent break on “all qualified expenditures,” Politico pointed out. The intention of the policy was to create jobs and “stimulate diversity in production hiring,” says the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
Still, Burns had no objection to Lee making the film.
It’s not a First Amendment issue, and I’m on the board of the ACLU by the way, because no one is saying he can’t make the movie. I’m just saying if you’re going to take the subsidy, the public should be given a seat at the table, and we need to have a conversation and a dialogue about it. It’s our money, and it’s our city.
h/t: DNA Info