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Kevin Willmott's 'Chi-Raq' to open in Lawrence this weekend

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Director Spike Lee, left, and co-writer and Kansas University professor Kevin Willmott are pictured on set during the filming of ‘Chi-Raq’ in Chicago in 2015. The film, which opened in limited release in theaters last month, is an adaptation of the classic Greek comedy “Lysistrata” about gun violence in present-day Chicago.

Director Spike Lee, left, and co-writer and Kansas University professor Kevin Willmott are pictured on set during the filming of ‘Chi-Raq’ in Chicago in 2015. The film, which opened in limited release in theaters last month, is an adaptation of the classic Greek comedy “Lysistrata” about gun violence in present-day Chicago.

“Chi-Raq,” the latest effort from local filmmaker Kevin Willmott, opens in Lawrence today at Liberty Hall, 644 Massachusetts St.

Willmott, an associate professor of film and media studies at Kansas University, co-wrote and served as executive producer of the critically acclaimed satire, which tackles gun violence in Chicago’s south side. Directed by Spike Lee, the film is a modern-day take on the classic Greek comedy “Lysistrata,” in which women hold a sex strike in the hopes of forcing peace negotiations for the end of the Peloponnesian War.

Released nationwide on Dec. 4, “Chi-Raq” has drawn renewed media attention this week for its lack of 2016 Academy Award nominations in what some have pointed out as another example of #OscarsSoWhite.

The Twitter hashtag, for those not in the know, criticized the Academy Awards last year and again this week for failing to recognize films made by and/or starring people of color, Netflix’s “Beasts of No Nation,” about child soldiers in West Africa, and the N.W.A. biopic “Straight Outta Compton” being two perceived slights. (Ironically, the white screenwriters behind “Straight Outta Compton” scored its sole nomination.)

“Chi-Raq” will be shown at Liberty Hall’s main theater at 7 p.m., and at 9:30 p.m. in the little theater, until Thursday. For possible showtimes after Thursday, contact Liberty Hall at 749-1972.

The film’s star-studded cast includes Nick Cannon, Angela Bassett, Jennifer Hudson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Cusack, Wesley Snipes and Teyonah Parris.

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