Watch This: Trailer for Chi-Raq

Teyonah Parris in Chi-Raq

Amazon Studios first effort at a movie released to theaters is Chi-Raq, an adaptation of the ancient Greek play Lysistrata by Aristophanes. It’s one of the oldest female-power stories in our culture, this time set against the backdrop of gang violence in Chicago. Women living amid gang war force their desire for peace on their men by withholding sex.

The story synopsis is “After the murder of a child by a stray bullet, a group of women led by Lysistrata organize against the on-going violence in Chicago’s Southside creating a movement that challenges the nature of race, sex and violence in America and around the world.”

Lysistrata isn’t a feminist tale with its assumption that the only importance women have is to provide sex for brave warriors and the only influence women have comes from withholding sex. Chi-Raq doesn’t look like the update it brings will be any less patriarchal in attitude, but perhaps there is hope for some modernism in approach. The film is written by Spike Lee and Kevin Willmott, with Spike Lee directing. That alone will mean Chi-Raq garners plenty of attention.

The cast is impressive: Nick Cannon, Teyonah Parris as Lysistrata, Anya Engel-Adams, Wesley Snipes, Angela Bassett, Michelle Mitchenor, Samuel L. Jackson, Dave Chappelle, and Jennifer Hudson, among many others.

The film will be in theaters on December 4. A month after the film releases in theaters, it will appear on Amazon Instant Video.

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