Exclusive - Spike Lee Extended Interview

November 30, 2015 - Spike Lee 11/30/2015 Views: 8,550

Filmmaker Spike Lee explains how the Greek play "Lysistrata" inspired his film "Chi-Raq," which focuses on the high rates of violence across Chicago's South Side. (8:58)

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>> Trevor: PLEASE WELCOME,SPIKE LEE!

[ CHEERS AND APPLAUSE ]

[ CHEERS AND APPLAUSE ]

>> Trevor: THE LEGEND SPIKE LEE.

NO ONE HAS EVER DRANK WATER FROMTHAT CUP.

THANK YOU.

PEOPLE THINK --

>> ANOTHER ONE OF MY FIRSTS,HUH?

>> Trevor: YES, IT IS A FIRST.

HOW ARE YOU DOING, SIR?

>> Trevor: I'M GOOD.

THANK YOU.

HOW ARE YOU?

>> GREAT, GLAD.

I'M HONORED TO BE ON YOUR SHOW.

>> Trevor: NO, NO, THE HONORIS ALL MINE.

[ CHEERS AND APPLAUSE ]

I KNOW WE'RE TALKING ABOUT"CHI-RAQ."

BUT BEFORE I WATCHED IT, I WENTBACK TO WATCH "DO THE RIGHT

THING" AND IT WAS INSANE HOWPROPHESORIAL THAT MOVIE WAS.

>> YEAH, WE PREDICTED GLOBALWARMING.

>> Trevor: I KNOW.

DID YOU READ UP ON THAT OR --

>> I DON'T KNOW WHERE ITCAME FROM, BUT I WROTE IT.

IN 1988.

>> Trevor: YEAH.

I WROTE THAT SCRIPT FROM MARCH1 TO MARCH 14, 1988.

WE HAD THE WHOLE THING ABOUTGENTRIFICATION.

>> Trevor: ONE OF THE MOSTHARROWING WAS YOU HAD A BLACK

MAN BEING CHOKED TO DEATH BY THEPOLICE IN FRONT OF BYSTANDERS.

>> BUT THAT WAS BASED ON NYPDSTRANGULATION DEATH OF THE

GRAFFITI ARTIST MICHAEL STEWART.

SO I DIDN'T MAKE THAT UP.

>> Trevor: WOULD YOU SAY LESSPROPHESORIAL AND MORE REPEATING

ITSELF?

>> WHEN I SAW ERIC GARDNER, ITHOUGHT IT WAS REPEATING ITSELF.

ON YOUTUBE, I MADE A FILM MIXTAPE BETWEEN RADIO RAHEEM AND

ERIC GARDNER.

>> Trevor: IT WAS HARROWING, ITREALLY WAS.

WHAT WAS SO DIFFERENT FROM "DO THE RIGHT THING" AND

"CHI-RAQ" IS ALMOST THE POINT OFVIEW YOU'VE TAKEN.

DO THE RIGHT THING WAS SET IN ASINGLE DAY.

>> HOTTEST DAY IN THE SUMMER.

DO OR DIE.

>> Trevor: THAT STARRED SAMUELJACKSON.

AND HE'S BACK IN THIS FILM.

>> YES, HE PLAYS THE GREEKNARROATOR DOLMEDES.

>> Trevor: BECAUSE THIS WASBASED ON A GREEK PLAY.

>> WRITTEN BY ARISTOPHENES, APLACE CALLED LYSISTRATA.

IN THIS PLAY, THE WOMEN IS TIEDTO THE WAR AND GATHERS WOMEN AND

THEY FORM A SEX STRIKE ANDTHEY'RE GOING TO KEEP IT LOCKED

UP TILL THE MEN STOP WARRING.

WE TOOK THAT PREMISE AND MOVEDIT TO PRESENT DAY CHICAGO,

CHICAGO SOUTH SIDE, WHICH ISCHICAGO RIGHT NOW IS THE MURDER

AND THE MASS PER CAPITA OF THEUNITED STATES OF NORTH AMERICA.

>> Trevor: AND THAT'S WHERE THENAME "CHI-RAQ" COMES FROM.

ONLINE, IT'S CONTROVERSIAL,"CHI-RAQ."

SPIKE LEE, WHY DID YOU GIVE ITTHAT NAME? BUT YOU DIDN'T.

>> NO, LOCAL BLACK RAPPERS CAMEUP WITH THAT NAME BECAUSE THEY

FELT THEIR NEIGHBORHOOD ANDSTREETS WERE MORE DANGEROUS THAN

IRAQ AND THE NUMBERS PROVE THEMTRUE.

>> Trevor: MORE AMERICANS HAVEBEEN KILLED IN CHICAGO THAN IN

BOTH OF THE WARS COMBINED.

>> THAN IN THE IRAQI AND AFGHANIWARS.

>> Trevor: THIS MOVIE ISBAT-SHIT CRAZY.

[ LAUGHTER ]

NO, IF YOU WATCH ONE CLIP,I DON'T EVEN KNOW HOW I WOULD

EXPLAIN THIS MOVIE TO A FRIEND.

I WOULD GO, THERE ARE PARTSWHERE I WAS, LIKE, WAS SPIKE LEE

HIGH WHEN HE MADE THIS?

NO, IT'S AMAZING, BECAUSE YOULAUGH HARD AND THEN IT'S

SERIOUS, THEN IT'S REALLYSERIOUS.

THERE'S NO TOPIC IS LEFTUNTURNED.

IS THIS A FILM WHERE YOU WEREGETTING EVERYTHING OFF YOUR

CHEST?

>> I THINK IT WAS.

IF YOU REMEMBER THE SCENE THEGREAT JOHN CUSACK GIVES, THE

SERMON, THE EULOGY, THAT'S LIKETHE MANIFESTO FOR THE FILM WHERE

WE TRY TO SAY WHAT ARE THESYSTEMIC CONDITIONS THAT RESULT

IN THIS IS 11-YEAR-OLD GIRLBEING SHOT BY A STRAY BULLET.

>> Trevor: WHY DID YOU GETJOHN CUSACK TO PLAY A BLACK

PASTOR.

HE'S NOT IN BLACK FACE.

BUT HE IS PLAYING A BLACKPASTOR.

HE EVEN AS THE RHYTHM --

"YES, THE PEOPLE ASKED ME, ANDJESUS SAID!"

IT'S WEIRD BECAUSE IT'S A WHITEGUY.

>> THIS IS BASED ON A WHITEROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST.

HIS NAME IS FATHER MICHAELPFLEGER.

HE'S BEEN IN THE CHURCH IN THESOUTH SIDE OF CHICAGO FOR 40

YEARS AND HE'S ONE OF THELEADING ANTI-GUN, ANTI-VIOLENCE

PEOPLE IN THE UNITED STATES.

>> Trevor: I WANNA GO TOCHICAGO.

I DON'T WANT TO GO TO CHICAGOBECAUSE I DON'T WANT TO DIE, BUT

I WANT TO SEE THIS GUY.

[ LAUGHTER ]

>> LET'S DON'T JOKE ABOUT THAT.

THIS IS SERIOUS.

BLOOD IS RUNNING ON THE STREETSOF SOUTH SIDE OF CHICAGO.

YOU SAW WHAT HAPPENED INCOLORADO.

>> Trevor: YES.

>> BUT RECENTLY THAT SAME DAY,THE DAY BEFORE, THEY RELEASED A

TAPE OF LaQUAN, THE GUY SHOT.

THEY HAD THAT TAPE FOR A YEAR,AND THEY FINALLY PUT IT OUT, AND

HE WAS MURDERED.

AND THEN I JUST SAW THEYRELEASED A TAPE WITH THE AUDIO.

FIRST WAS SILENT, AND NOW THEAUDIO, AND YOU SEE THE LAST FIVE

OR SIX SHOTS, HE'S DEAD,ALREADY, AND THEY WERE JUST

PUMPING HIM.

IT WAS CRAZY.

I WONDER, WHY DID IT TAKE THEM AYEAR TO RELEASE THIS TAPE?

>> Trevor: OBVIOUSLY, THEY SAYIT'S BECAUSE THEY WANT TO

INVESTIGATE.

THEY WANT TO INSIGHT.

>> DOESN'T TAKE THAT LONG.

>> Trevor: AS A FILMMAKER, YOUWOULD KNOW HOW LONG IT TAKES TO

RELEASE A VIDEO, I'M ASSUMING.

[ LAUGHTER ]

>> THERE ARE A LOT OFQUESTIONS THAT PEOPLE IN POWER

IN CHICAGO, IN THE STATE OFILLINOIS HAVE TO ANSWER.

>> Trevor: HERE'S ONE THING,AND I HOPE I'M NOT JUMPING TO A

CONCLUSION HERE.

WOULD YOU SAY YOU ARE PRO RIOT?

WHEN I WATCH YOUR MOVIES, I GO,WHAT ARE YOU PRO THAN IN THE

DEMONSTRATION?

>> I MEAN, I DON'T WANT ANYBODYTO RIOT.

I THINK THE OTHER THING DO THERIGHT THING PROPHESIED WAS,

THE RIOT IN "DO THE RIGHT THING"FORESHADOWED BEHIND THE RODNEY

KING VERDICT WHEN ALL THOSECOPS--

THE WHOLE WORLD SAW THE TAPE OFRODNEY KING GETTING HIS ASS

BEAT.

THEY MOVED THE TRIAL TO THE SIMIVALLEY, HE GOT OFF AND ALL HELL

BROKE LOOSE.

BUT HERE'S THE THING -- I'M FORPEACE.

I DON'T THINK WE SHOULD GOCRAZY, BREAK WINDOWS, ALL THAT

STUFF.

BUT THERE COMES A POINT, AS WASDEMONSTRATED IN LOS ANGELES,

PEOPLE, WHEN THEY FEEL LIKETHEY'RE NOT GETTING A FAIR BREAK

AND SOMEBODY HAS THEIR FOOT ONTHEIR NECK, PEOPLE REACT.

HISTORICALLY, THERE WERE RIOTSBEHIND THE ASSASSINATION OF

MARTIN LUTHER KING.

WE GO WAY BACK.

PEOPLE FEEL IF THERE IS NOOUTLET --

>> Trevor: WELL, THE PEOPLEWILL REACT FROM THAT.

>> YES.

>> Trevor: IN THIS MOVIE, THEWOMEN REACT BY WITHHOLDING SEX

FROM ALL THE MEN AND THISBECOMES A WORLDWIDE PHENOMENON.

>> YES, FIRST IT STARTS IN THESOUTH SIDE OF CHICAGO, THEN FULL

CHICAGO, NATIONWIDE THEN GLOBAL.

>> Trevor:NOBODY'S GETTING ANYANYWHERE!

>> NOT EVEN A WHIFF!

[ LAUGHTER ]

>> Trevor: WAS THIS PERSONAL?

>> NO!

>> Trevor: DO YOU KNOW THEPOWER OF WITHOLDING?

>> NO, NO!

>> Trevor: YOU SMILE ABOUT IT.

DO YOU KNOW THE POWER OFWITHHOLDING?

>> THIS COMES FROM THE ORIGINALSOURCE.

THE PLAY WAS WRITTEN 411 B.C.

>> Trevor: DO YOU BELIEVE ITCOULD WORK?

>> IT WORKED IN LIBERIA.

>> Trevor: IN LIBERIA THEY SAYIT WAS A CONTRIBTUING

FACTOR BUT THE WOMAN IN THESTORY SAYS SHE DOESN'T THINK IT

WAS THE MAIN FACTOR.

>> SHE WON A NOBEL PEACE PRIZE.

SHE SAYS THE SISTER WON A NOBELPEACE PRIZE FOR HER EFFORTS IN

WHICH SHE ORGANIZED WOMEN.

SHE SAID ONE OF THE STRATEGIESIS WE'LL WITHHOLD SEX AND IT

STOPPED THE SECOND CIVIL WAR INLIBERIA.

GOOGLE IT!

>> Trevor: I'LL GOOGLE IT!

>> WAIT, WAIT...

OUR CONTINENT!

WHOA!

>> Trevor: IT IS AN AMAZINGMOVIE.

IT'S SO FUNNY, IT IS CRAZY.

IT HAS A MESSAGE BEHIND IT.

I CAN'T RECOMMEND IT ENOUGH.

"CHI-RAQ" WILL BE IN MOVIETHEATERS NATIONWIDE FRIDAY.

SPIKE LEE, EVERYBODY.