Adriaan Roets
2 minute read
11 Sep 2015
6:00 am

Spike Lee goes digital

Adriaan Roets

The Nedbank Digital Edge Live conference yesterday was jam-packed with speakers and industry leaders in digital marketing and commerce.

Ironically, the most talked about guest had to be American film-maker Spike Lee. That is perhaps why he was chosen as the key speaker yesterday.

It could also be that there is a lot of faith in Lee, who is releasing his latest film Chiraq later this year. The catch, of course, is he is releasing the film through

It’s the first film to be released by the online corporation and quite a feat when you take into consideration the names of Hollywood elite who opted to be in a film that will be released exclusively online before theatrical release.

Chiraq is a musical comedy about violence in Chicago and stars Nick Cannon, Jennifer Hudson, Angela Bassett, John Cusack, Wesley Snipes and Samuel L Jackson. It deals with the gritty realities of crime-ridden Chicago.

Lee says the focus is on inner city violence, as well as America’s gun problem. He believes America to be one of the most violent countries in the world.

Chiraq is a combination of Chicago and Iraq, suggesting there is a correlation between war-torn Iraq and the violence of Chicago. The interesting thing about the film is Lee used crowdfunding to make it a reality.

Crowdfunding has been used to bring films like Veronica Mars to life, but is seldom used by established film-makers such as Lee. To him, raising funds on his own meant he was returning to his roots.

He touched on the RhodesMustFall activism campaign that demanded the removal of the Cecil John Rhodes statue from the University of Cape Town campus earlier this year. He commended SA and pointed out it was a big achievement for such a young democracy.

His most important point is government needs to get behind artists, no matter what form of art they produce.

“A country is only as great as the artists it produces,” he said.