Up 10,900 this week

The Interrupters (2011)

Unrated  |   |  Documentary, Crime  |  12 August 2011 (UK)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.5/10 from 2,963 users   Metascore: 86/100
Reviews: 14 user | 77 critic | 24 from

A year in the life of a city grappling with urban violence.



(New York Times magazine article)
Watch Trailer
0Check in

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Instant Video

IMDb Picks: August

Visit our IMDb Picks section to see our recommendations of movies and TV shows coming out in August.

Visit the IMDb Picks section

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 24 titles
created 29 Jan 2011
a list of 45 titles
created 29 May 2012
a list of 28 titles
created 06 Jul 2012
a list of 21 titles
created 06 Aug 2013
a list of 24 titles
created 5 months ago

Related Items

Search for "The Interrupters" on

Connect with IMDb

Share this Rating

Title: The Interrupters (2011)

The Interrupters (2011) on IMDb 7.5/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of The Interrupters.
10 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Reel Paradise (2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Former indie film "guru" John Pierson takes his family to Fiji for one year to run the world's most remote movie theater.

Director: Steve James
Stars: Georgia Pierson, Janet Pierson, John Pierson
Hoop Dreams (1994)
Documentary | Drama | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

A film following the lives of two inner-city Chicago boys who struggle to become college basketball players on the road to going professional.

Director: Steve James
Stars: William Gates, Arthur Agee, Emma Gates
Life Itself (2014)
Documentary | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

The life and career of the renowned film critic and social commentator, Roger Ebert.

Director: Steve James
Stars: Roger Ebert, Chaz Ebert, Gene Siskel
The Music Man (2012)
Documentary | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

MUSIC MAN tells the story of professor and inventor Ge Wang who teaches computer music at Stanford University where he began the innovative Stanford Laptop Orchestra. Wang believes everyone... See full summary »

Director: Steve James
Project Nim (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Tells the story of a chimpanzee taken from its mother at birth and raised like a human child by a family in a brownstone on the upper West Side in the 1970s.

Director: James Marsh
Stars: Nim Chimpsky, Stephanie LaFarge, Herbert Terrace
Documentary | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A couple embarks on a journey home for Chinese new year along with 130 million other migrant workers, to reunite with their children and struggle for a future. Their unseen story plays out as China soars towards being a world superpower.

Director: Lixin Fan
Stars: Changhua Zhan, Yang Zhang, Suqin Chen
Afghan Star (2009)
Documentary | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A look at how contestants on the a musical contest program "Pop Idol" in Afghanistan risk their lives to appear on the show.

Director: Havana Marking
Stars: Habib Amiri, Setara Hussainzada, Rafi Naabzada
Murderball (2005)
Documentary | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Quadriplegics, who play full-contact rugby in wheelchairs, overcome unimaginable obstacles to compete in the Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece.

Directors: Henry Alex Rubin, Dana Adam Shapiro
Stars: Joe Soares, Keith Cavill, Mark Zupan
Documentary | History | News
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

The story of two coalitions -- ACT UP and TAG (Treatment Action Group) -- whose activism and innovation turned AIDS from a death sentence into a manageable condition.

Director: David France
Stars: Peter Staley, Larry Kramer, Iris Long
Waste Land (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

On the outskirts of Rio de Janiro is Jardim Gramacho, the world's largest landfill, where men and women sift through garbage for a living. Artist Vik Muniz produces portraits of the workers and learns about their lives.

Directors: Lucy Walker, Karen Harley, and 1 more credit »
Stars: Vik Muniz

Today, one in four people is overweight. One in six is malnourished, and more children die from malnutrition than anything else. For the first time in human history, tomorrow's generation ... See full summary »

Director: Steve James
Documentary | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

Greg O'Brien, long-time Cape Cod reporter and newspaperman, has been diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer's. Acting on instinct and journalistic grit, Greg has decided to face down the ... See full summary »

Director: Steve James
Stars: Greg O'Brien


Cast overview, first billed only:
Tio Hardiman ...
Ameena Matthews ...
Toya Batey ...
Cobe Williams ...
Gary Slutkin ...
Earl Sawyer ...
Bud Oliver ...
Kenneth Oliver ...
Caprysha Anderson ...
Sheikh Rasheed ...
Alfreda Williams ...
Mildred Jones ...
Mildred Williams ...
Lillian 'Madea' Smith ...
Rashida ...


The Interrupters tells the moving and surprising stories of three Violence Interrupters who try to protect their Chicago communities from the violence they once employed. From acclaimed director Steve James and bestselling author Alex Kotlowitz, this film is an unusually intimate journey into the stubborn, persistence of violence in our cities. Shot over the course of a year out of Kartemquin Films, The Interrupters captures a period in Chicago when it became a national symbol for the violence in our cities. During that period, the city was besieged by high-profile incidents, most notably the brutal beating of Derrion Albert, a Chicago High School student, whose death was caught on videotape. The film's main subjects work for an innovative organization, CeaseFire, which believes that the spread of violence mimics the spread of infectious diseases, and so the treatment should be similar: go after the most infected, and stop the infection at its source. The singular mission of the "... Written by Kartemquin Films

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Every City Needs Its Heroes


Documentary | Crime


Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

12 August 2011 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Untitled Steve James Project  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$3,557 (USA) (5 August 2011)


$282,448 (USA) (17 February 2012)

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


See  »

Did You Know?


The film is Steve James' sixth feature length collaboration with his long-time filmmaking home, the non-profit Chicago production studio Kartemquin Films, and is also his fifth feature to screen at the Sundance Film Festival. See more »


Featured in Ebert Presents: At the Movies: Episode #2.12 (2011) See more »


Me & Rico
Written and Performed by Reuben Butchart
Courtesy of Aperture Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

"It's a warzone and an epidemic"
8 March 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Steve James' documentary The Interrupters opens with audio taken from several different Chicago news sources, reporting "x" number of people murdered in the city, and how an outbreak of gun violence has ripped apart the area as a whole. We then cut to a volunteer organization that takes the courageous act of stepping in at the sight of conflict amongst gang-members, and works to try and prevent yet another death in a city so consumed by heinous crimes. This group is called "the Interrupters," and for the next two hours we witness their invaluable actions.

The Interrupters work for an organization called "CeaseFire," and its members are comprised of former gang-members; a positive, being that since they are still young, they can speak the language of the gangs and recall the motives of an underprivileged teenager. While they work entirely for the area of Chicago, much of their time is devoted to bettering Englewood, one of the most broken cities in the entire nation. 98% of Englewood residents are black, with the main age demographic being people under the thirty. With a 25.8% unemployment rate (which has now risen to 44%, roughly two years after the release of this film), the townspeople look towards a life of gangs as a way to earn respect, money, territory, and get a quick-fix for violence and danger. This makes the area especially dangerous, not just for the gang-members of opposing territories, but the residents who want no part in the crime world. Whether you're a gang-member on the front lines of violence, a passive resident, a bystander, or even a young child you're a potential victim to a senseless problem.

One of the leading violence interrupters is a bright, young woman named Ameena Mathews. Once an active gang-member, she has since married, converted to being a Muslim, and works to travel around the community promoting a truce and a compromise between opposing forces. When she bravely lectures in the middle of thirty or so gang-members about how there's no reason at all to be dealing or discussing potential crimes when children are arriving home from school, the petite woman herself is open to almost anything. Steve James and his camera crew are as well. Yet Mathews boldly preaches her gospel before traveling on to continue doing more work.

Frequently, CeaseFire will hold fiery roundtable meetings, where group members will discuss what fight/argument they've broken up since the last meeting and what leads do they have on any further gang activity. During these meetings, despite several dozens of Interrupters being on the job and prepared for just about anything, it's when we see how grossly outnumbered they are. Keep in mind, Chicago isn't just Englewood, and with a population of over 3,000,000 citizens, the per-capita rate of the CeaseFire members is and will always remain outnumbered. This doesn't make their efforts any less commendable, but with over 500 homicides taken place in a city so torn in 2012, there needs to be more recruiting and soon. How much longer can a city be referred to as names like "Chiraq," and boast a statistic that states it is more violent than Iraq and Afghanistan? Aesthetically, The Interrupters is extraordinary, with several long-shots of the crisp, yet crumbling Chicagoland area. Scarcely has a documentary about going into a real issue been so engrossing visually. Yet what truly makes The Interrupters the captivating, multi-layered documentary that it is is the way it conducts its subjects. Too often do I see documentaries take the path of a scare-tactic gift-wrapped as a formal piece of information. Here, we are presented with nothing but the true homelives of these troubled teenagers and adults, who are not only bearing hard circumstances on their shoulders, but misguided direction, societal neglect, negative perceptions, and shallow stereotypes. Think about the way white people are often associated with being wealthy, pure, and successful, while black people often associated with being deviant, rude, and obnoxious. Are these stereotypes shaping us or are we shaping our stereotypes? This is a bolder question from a documentary, asked naturally, that for once doesn't come from a glaring, empty statistic.

One of the smaller, yet more relevant details the film goes into is the significance of rival-gangs and how integrating them in hopes of a "melting pot"-like effect is purely hopeless on all accounts. This is shown when Carver High School, a populated urban school, was rebranded as a military academy, it forced many kids to move to a nearby neighborhood and attend Fenger High School. Carver and Fenger have a notorious gang rivalry occurring, and not long after the schools were integrated, a teenager named Derrion Albert was brutally beaten to death and the beating was captured on a cell phone to be viewed on Youtube.

James, who made Hoop Dreams, which is often hailed as one of the best pieces of documentary filmmaking ever, lived a full year in Chicago, and witnessed unforeseeable acts of not just despair and ugliness, but also true bravery. Being in the line of gunfire and danger numerous times, and filming highly-graphic footage with true documentarian impunity shows not only devotion but true commitment to a job. The Interrupters was also co-produced by sociologist Alex Kotlowitz, who wrote the popular novel "There Are No Children Here: The Story of Two Boys Growing Up in the Other America," a profoundly eye-opening book on the lives of inner-city children who live in public housing projects.

This is a powerhouse documentary in every sense of the word, emotional, exhilarating, heart-wrenching, and often, very melancholic. It shows that while there's a silver lining of hope reaching the Chicagoland area in terms of a method to eliminate seemingly endless gun violence, it may be too facile to call it a formal "solution" just yet.

NOTE: This review was read before my English class, Junior year in high school, in March 2013.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Should have gotten an Oscar nomination maymay-2
Song list of this documentary? jfca283
Steve James interview AtlantaMoviesExaminer
What is going on, now? vilj-1
Sinking ship. aphexxx
Discuss The Interrupters (2011) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: