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Spike Lee to Speak Following Campus Screening of ‘Chi-Raq’

Filmmaker to be joined by local activists involved with the film’s production in Chicago

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February 19, 2016 | by Hilary Hurd Anyaso

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Filmmaker Spike Lee will participate in a discussion following a screening of his most recent film “Chi-Raq” on Wednesday, March 2 on Northwestern University’s Evanston campus. 

The free event is only open to the Northwestern community. Tickets must be obtained at the Norris Box Office ahead of time, while supply lasts. Tickets will be available in-person at the Norris starting at noon Friday, Feb. 19.

Hosted by the University’s department of political science, dean of Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and the student-run Contemporary Thought Speaker Series (CTSS), “An Evening with Spike Lee” will be held in Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson Street. 

The event includes a screening of “Chi-Raq” at 5 p.m. followed immediately by a conversation with Lee. Local activists involved with the film’s production on location in Chicago will join him on stage.

Tickets will be released in waves during the course of a week to ensure that all who want a ticket have an opportunity to get one at Norris. A Wildcard will be required to pick up a ticket, and only one ticket will be given out per person. Information on the later ticket release dates will be available on CTSS’ Facebook page

Lee’s most recent film, “Chi-Raq,” addresses gun violence in America and is set in Chicago. The title comes from a nickname for Chicago that likens conditions in some neighborhoods to war zones in Iraq. The film is structured as an adaptation of Aristophanes’ “Lysistrata,” a masterpiece of ancient Greek comedy in which women from warring cities come together to stage a sex strike in an effort to force an end to violence. “Lysistrata” has inspired political activists both in the United States and abroad for years. The film stars Nick Cannon, Wesley Snipes, Jennifer Hudson, John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson. 

“Spike Lee’s art is at once stylish, provocative, civic-minded and extremely thoughtful,” said Sara Monoson, chair of the department of political science at Northwestern. “We are thrilled that discussion of ‘Chi-Raq’ with the filmmaker will be part of Weinberg College’s efforts to support frank conversations on campus about the most difficult issues.” 

Ben Zimmermann, co-chairman of CTSS, says the student organization always strives to bring in speakers who represent thought-provoking ideas in today’s ever-changing society. 

CTSS brings intellectual figures to speak about their fields, and has previously hosted Ezra Klein, editor in chief of Vox.com, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and most recently Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Diaz.

“We are so excited for Spike to speak to the Northwestern community about heated and controversial topics such as gun violence, race relations and the capacity of movies to inspire change,” Zimmermann said.

Lee has produced more than 35 films since 1980. Many of them such as “Do the Right Thing” and “Malcolm X” explore race relations and other political themes. Lee is the recipient of an Honorary Oscar from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (2015) for being “a champion of independent film and an inspiration to young filmmakers.” He currently serves as the artistic director of the graduate film program at New York University. 

Entertainment Weekly called “Chi-Raq” “the most urgently 2015 movie of 2015”; the New York Times calls it Lee’s “best work in years”; and The New Yorker’s Richard Brody labeled it “necessary.”

The event also is co-sponsored by the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities, the department of African American studies, and the department of classics.

Topics: Arts and Events