Thousands try for role in ‘Chiraq’ | WBEZ
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Thousands try for role in 'Chiraq'

Auditions for a Spike Lee movie about violence on Chicago’s South Side inspired thousands of people to stand in line in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood on a chilly, gray Saturday.

Spike Lee’s film, called ‘Chiraq,’ has garnered criticism from politicians and others who think the term reflects poorly on the city.

But as aspiring cast members stood for hours in line outside St. Sabina Academy, most said they didn’t see a problem with the name of the film.

The problem, they say, is that the South and West sides of Chicago really are like war zones.

Many expressed hope that the movie and its title would bring much-needed attention to the less affluent parts of the city.

More than 2,500 people had gone through the audition process by about 2 p.m., standing for pictures and leaving their contact information.

“I knew there’d be a lot,” said Rev. Michael Pfleger, the pastor at St. Sabina. “But I didn’t know there’d be this many.”

Pfleger said by the end of the day, he expected to see more than 4,000 people.

The casting call had asked for people of all ethnicities from age 7 to 75.

“Grandmas and gang members, all the same, in line,” Pfleger said.

“It’s been great. It’s been a very powerful, very positive thing here at 78th and Racine. I mean, when’s the last time we ever heard a casting call for a movie being held in the
heart of the black community?”

Pfleger says he personally doesn’t see a problem with Spike Lee calling the movie ‘Chiraq.’

“I think Spike is a good brother, I think he’s a conscientious brother, and I think people that are here say they want to be connected with Spike Lee.”

Filming is expected to begin later this month.

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