7.5/10
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The Interrupters (2011)

Unrated | | Documentary, Crime | 12 August 2011 (UK)
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A year in the life of a city grappling with urban violence.

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(New York Times magazine article)
10 wins & 17 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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

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

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Taglines:

Every City Needs Its Heroes

Genres:

Documentary | Crime

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

12 August 2011 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Untitled Steve James Project  »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend:

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

Gross:

$282,448 (USA) (19 February 2012)
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Connections

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

Soundtracks

Fly Away pt.1
Written by Deon Williams
Performed by Andre Foxx
Courtesy of ABD Affiliated Entertainment
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User Reviews

 
Meaner Streets
17 February 2012 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This film is recommended.

Flowers and candles, hand-printed messages written on notebook paper tacked to makeshift shrines, all decorated with photographs of young victims. This touching memorials litter the blood-spattered streets of Chicago and are the remains of the day in The Interrupters, a powerful and disturbing documentary by the talented Steve James ( Hoop Dreams ).

His film takes the moviegoer directly into the crime-ridden neighborhoods as we meet a group of peacemakers trying to restore sanity and preaching their anti-violence message to the choir. The group is called CeaseFire and it is made up of ex-gang leaders and former convicts whose motto is Stop the Violence - Save a Life.

James directed and photographed his documentary and focuses on three interrupter and their "scared straight" strategies of tough love and reality checks. We met Cobe Williams, a former gang member and family man now whose father was killed during a street fight, Eddie Bocanegra, a young man easily impressed by the gang's image of fast cars, money, and girls who served 14 years for murder and now uses art as a method of expression and conflict mediation, and the primary spokesperson, Ameena Matthews, the daughter of a gang leader who was physically, emotionally, and sexually abused at an early age and has since let faith and family lead her away from that life-style and keep her grounded.

We also met some of those troubled teens: Caprysha, a defeated Precious type, living in a halfway house, dreaming of a better life while constantly lying and breaking her parole; Lil Mikey, released from prison and wanting to be a better role model for his siblings; and Flamo, a young man enraged with his mother and brother's arrest and wanting his own form of justice. It is impossible not to care about their people and their lives.

The film consists of interviews with gang members, families of their victims, and scenes of escalating violence. At times, The Interrupters becomes slightly repetitive in its interventions and lock-step mindset of anger and frustration. More judicious editing could have made the film even more forceful. But the passion for its compelling subject and James' craft as a filmmaker make up for those minor complaints.

The documentary gives us no easy answers as drugs, unemployment, alcohol, poverty,and guns still are a major reason for the neighborhood's ills. Politicians come and go with each election, giving lip service and promises. Yet these people and their difficult lives become the on-going problem in search of a solution, and groups like CeaseFire seem to be their only course of positive action. The Interrupters allows us to see a world that we can never fathom and acknowledge the spirit of a group of strong-willed survivors, trying to make a difference and save a life or two throughout a normal day. GRADE: B

NOTE: Visit my movie blog for more reviews: www.dearmoviegoer.com


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