Dramatic “Chiraq” TV pilot to screen publicly Sunday

Eric Lane

The pilot for “Chiraq,” a dramatic TV series about gang rivalry set in Chicago’s troubled South Side neighborhoods, created and produced by William Pierce of Filmquest, Inc. will screen Sunday, March 8 at the Studio Movie Grill on 87th St.

“Chiraq,” which Pierce describes as “West Side Story” and “The Wire,” has been funded for eight episodes currently in pre- production.  The series will start shooting in April with a crew of 15. “Chicagoland is our set,” he says.

The story revolves around a rival African American and a Latino gang leader, who are at war over gaining control of their Chiraq neighborhood and the friendship between their teen son daughter, which is “the Romeo and Juliet side of the story,” says Pierce.

Starring as the turf rivals are Eric Lane (R. Kelly’s “Trapped in the Closet Hip Opera”) and Jose Santiago (“Chicago PD”); Simeon Henderson (“Caught Up”) is Lane’s brother, a policeman; Michelle Shelton Huff (“Boss”) and Luisa Riveria (“Chicago Fire”) play their respective mothers.

High school sweethearts and the gang bosses’ children are Terry Bell and Hannah Bonecutter.

The series was written by Michael Ballard, Margaret James and Alicia Lozano. Producer / directors are Lawrence Wallace, who directed the first episode and M J Allen, who helmed the second. episode.  DP is Noel Occomy (“The Interrupters”) and editor is Chicagoan Deshaun Simpson now working in LA.

Because of his influence and mentorship of M J Allen and many other African American filmmakers, the series is dedicated to the late Ronn Pitts, long-time Columbia College instructor who was the first African American to work in the Chicago film industry.

Episodes one and two have been combined into an hourlong drama for the screening Sunday. At 210 E. 87th St., showings at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.; tickets $10.