CTSS announces "Chi-Raq" filmmaker Spike Lee as next speaker

    Contemporary Thought Speaker Series just got you a better Valentine’s Day present than chocolate or an oversized stuffed bear – a free screening of Spike Lee’s controversial 2015 film “Chi-Raq,” followed by a discussion with the award-winning filmmaker himself and local activists.

    The screening will be held at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 2, in Cahn Auditorium, in conjunction with the Department of Political Science and the dean of Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. It will also co-sponsored by the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities, the Department of African-American Studies and the Department of Classics.

    Tickets are free, but must be picked up in Norris with a WildCARD. They will be released in waves to ensure an equal opportunity for students to get tickets. The first wave will start at noon on Friday, Feb. 19.

    “Chi-Raq” addresses gun violence in Chicago, taking its title from a nickname that compares the city, which had more than 2,900 shootings and almost 470 homicides in 2015, to warzones in Iraq. It is a modern adaptation of Aristophanes’ “Lysistrata,” in which women attempt to end violence in warring cities by with a sex strike.

    “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, in a press release. “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.”

    CTSS was drawn to Lee because of the filmmaker’s attention to urgent, relevant and though-provoking ideas, traits also seen in other recent speakers Junot Díaz and Emily Bazelon.

    “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,” Ben Zimmermann*, CTSS co-chair, said in a press release.

    This is not Lee’s first film to address politics and race, including “Do the Right Thing” and “Malcolm X.” Last year Lee, who has made over 35 films since 1980, was given an Honorary Oscar from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for being “a champion of independent film and an inspiration to young filmmakers.”

    *Note: Ben Zimmermann is a senior magazine editor for North By Northwestern's print edition.


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