Hundreds Line Up Outside St. Sabina Academy for “Chiraq” Casting Call

Spike Lee says the film will focus on the Englewood neighborhood and "black-on-black violence"

At least 350 people lined up outside of St. Sabina Academy in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood Saturday morning for an open casting call for Spike Lee's "Chiraq" film.

The casting call began at 10 a.m., but people started lining up as early as 4 a.m. in the hopes of landing a role as an extra in the film.

Filming hasn't yet begun, but Lee has already caused controversy in Chicago. While many of those at the casting call believe the film will bring jobs and money to the Englewood neighborhood as well as highlight the problem of violence for a bigger audience, others have taken offense to the film's title, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Ald. Will Burns (4th).

On Wednesday, Ald. Burns asked City Council to vote on a measure that would push the state to deny Lee's company a $3 million tax break for shooting the film in Illinois if he moves forward with the "Chiraq" name.

"I'm really concerned about the brand 'Chiraq' being applied to neighborhoods where people are trying to do the right thing," Ald. Burns said.

Mayor Emanuel has also expressed his disapproval of the film's title in a City Council meeting in April.

"We had an honest, frank conversation," the mayor said after meeting with Lee. "He said that while the movie is about the neighborhood of Englewood, I said that I was not happy about the title."

Lee said the movie will focus on Englewood, but it will spotlight the problem of "black-on-black violence."

The casting call is looking for men and women of all ethnicities between the ages of 7 and 75 who have flexible schedules. Lee is also reportedly in talks with several big-name stars, including Kanye West, Common, Jeremy Piven and Samuel L. Jackson, to bring them on board with the film.

Filming is expected to take place in Chicago May 19 through July 10.

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