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37 out of 42 people found the following review useful:

. The Inspiring Story of Chicagoans Fighting an Epidemic of Violence

Author: JustCuriosity from Austin, TX, United States
16 March 2011

Steve James is a remarkable documentary filmmaker who has given us a series of amazing films starting with Hoop Dreams that explore some of the more difficult issues in our society including race, poverty, crime, and violence. His film on the Trial of Allen Iverson revealed the complex racial discourse at work beneath his hometown of Hampton, VA. His most recent film, The Interrupters, screened today at Austin's SXSW Film Festival. It is a powerful film that captures the plague of urban violence that plagues are cities – in this case Chicago – and goes beyond documenting to show a group of activists (many with troubled pasts) working for a group called Ceasefire.

Ceasefire seeks to engage troubled young people and interrupt their dysfunctional behavior patterns of anger, crime, drug use, irresponsibility and violence. The Interrupters are acting heroically to try to save their imploding self-destructive communities. While the footage and the story are compelling, it could still use some editing since at over 2.5 hours it is a little too long. The length is understandable since James filmed over 300 hours, but it still needs to be paired down further to capture a manageable story.

The other problem with the film is more complex. The Interrupters are fighting on the front lines in their efforts to save their communities. But the fight that they are engaged in is almost impossible, because their personal and human efforts to save individuals are divorced from a larger political reality. The film is a deeply personal and human, but it fails to address the deeper social problems in education, unemployment that have created the epidemic of violence. They are treating the symptoms of those who are already infected without searching out the causes of the disease.

Sadly, the problems of the poor have disappeared from our political discourse since the collapse of the "War on Poverty." The current administration – led by our first urban President in decades - has failed to offer any sort of serious urban or anti-poverty agenda. Our political discourse focuses on the "middle class" and pretends as if poverty doesn't exist. Poverty has ceased to exist on American TV and in most of our news media coverage. Middle Class America has stopped seeing poverty which is quietly hidden away outside of our consciousness. The social contract that binds our society together is broken. We need far more films like the Interrupters to confront the American public with the realities of poverty and violence that are eating away at the soul of our society.

Hopefully, many people will watch a film like The Interrupters and ask themselves two questions: What can I do as an individual to help groups like this make a difference in my community? What can I do as a citizen to get my government to act to make the structural changes that are needed to transform these communities?

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15 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Profiles in courage

Author: proterozoic
6 February 2012

Chicago, Baltimore, Oakland, Detroit – synonyms for American crime, places where young men kill one another in the streets. Bleak background noise in the national news, with dim flares of outrage at especially gruesome killings.

On the subject of solutions, our imaginations are dismally poor and usually limited to applying money or violence in some form. More police, more arrests, longer sentences, talk of the National Guard on the streets.

The Interrupters seem to have a better gimmick. The violence prevention group CeaseFire recruited a group of tattooed ex-gang-members in Chicago, most of whom turned away from crime after cooling off in hospitals or prisons. They know the locals, and they have credibility where cops, teachers and politicians don't.

The film follows several of them: a tough gang heiress turned devout Muslim, an imposing man with several prison terms for drugs and violence, and a soft-spoken Latino out after serving 14 years for murder. Interrupters are, in effect, roaming street counselors; unlike the armchair type, they usually find themselves between two or more people who are about to begin stabbing one another. They are to ordinary counselors what BASE jumpers are to people who feel proud of taking stairs.

The rare and valuable insight of the film is how, over the course of a year, the counselors manage to talk down people who're about to do horrible things, and how these people arrive at such a place to begin with. None of them are remorseless sociopaths, and none of them appear to want or relish violence. They want the best for themselves, they value their families, and yet some have come to the verge of actual fratricide. Why? Hopelessness, poor impulse control, lack of role models, a gang tribalism that feeds on vacuum and anarchy.

It's amazing how many fights and murders aren't motivated by gain. They're essentially the result of undereducated boys applying the Cheney Doctrine every day on street level – "get them before they get you." On these streets, nobody trusts each other, everybody is armed and nobody is willing to back down from a fight. Tempers can flare instantly, and the killers are often as baffled by their own crimes as anybody else.

Somehow, the Interrupters pull young people out of this mindset. It takes a heroic amount of trust and patience. It doesn't work all the time. But it works way more often than one imagines it should.

There is a large and influential contingent in our country which holds that the only solution to inner-city violence is to tighten the screws even further. To their Klingon eyes, the CeaseFire approach probably looks like so much liberal mollycoddling of people who just ought to have their heads busted on the pavement more often. One of the thicker ironies of "The Interrupters" is that this Old Testament law enforcement mentality comes from precisely the same place as the bloody retaliations and preemptive violence by South Side gang-bangers.

I listened to the young ruffians, and heard the words of steely-eyed Giulianis: not backing down, not showing weakness, getting tough, getting serious, showing them who's boss. Once you realize that "tough on crime" politicians count on the same tactics to intimidate gangs that gangs use to intimidate one another, you may recognize the same lustful rage in yourself as well, and subside to embarrassed head-scratching.

The Interrupters talk about the legal trickery of being involved in potential crimes, and sometimes the organization has no choice but to get law enforcement on the case. However, their strength is not in meting out punishment, but understanding – and it's astonishing to see violent young toughs respond and open up. Even with all the money, cops and technology that America can scratch together, maybe the best way to solve social problems is still through one person talking to another.

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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Chicago at War

Author: evanston_dad from United States
30 August 2012

Only 9 reviews?!! This movie needs to be seen!

I live in Chicago, and every morning the Chicago Tribune has a headline tallying the overnight wounded and dead. It's not at all unlike the beginning days of the Gulf War, where every news hour would begin with the number of soldiers killed that day. The difference being that those stories gradually subsided as the numbers dwindled, and they were based on deaths in an actual military conflict. There are neighborhoods in Chicago that are as much like war zones as any area of Afghanistan, but no one is paying attention.

"The Interrupters" doesn't really try to address why no one is paying attention. It doesn't need to, because everyone pretty much knows the answer even if they're not willing to admit it to themselves. These aren't rural white kids getting killed for their country; these are poor, disenfranchised black kids who most people don't care about. Instead, this documentary follows a few members of CeaseFire, a nonprofit group comprised of past gang members, street criminals, etc. who are now using a tactic of intervention to stop chains of violence before they spiral out of control. These people are deeply admirable. They're not trying to break up gangs, they're not police informers. They're simply trying to make one person understand how pointless it is to shoot another person, no matter what grievances are at play.

This film is by Steve James, the same director who did the tremendous "Hoop Dreams," and if it doesn't have that film's epic scope, it has a more immediate sense of urgency.

After watching "The Interrupters" my wife and I were instantly online looking into ways to support CeaseFire. I hope others do the same.

Grade: A+

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Very worth your time to see

Author: qasdfghj from Berkeley
15 April 2012

I really feel that movies like this are worth it - to see and educate oneself. One of the problems in America today are that the downtrodden and invisible people have no voice or medium through which to tell their stories. Movies like this show us ... how powerful these stories truly are.

The Interrupters themselves were my favorite characters. I wish I could see more and more movies on people who have truly transformed their lives from hopeless to meaningful. There are many out there - fighting the good fight, against all odds. And the best outcome of a movie like this - is to feel transformed yourself, inadvertently, because you've become inspired to take back your power and use it to be the best person you can be, in whatever your situation is.

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Moving and Challenging Documentary

Author: Richard Brooks from Suffolk, England
11 October 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a moving and challenging, if rather long, documentary that follows the progress of the interrupters over the course of a year. However, it does not feel too long and the 125min passes surprisingly quickly.

The disturbing gang violence and cycle of revenge in Chicago is sensitively rendered; there is no gratuitous detail.

The interrupters are trying to intervene, to interrupt the cycle of shootings.

But there is hope. Hope in that the interrupters are themselves former gang members who are now working to reduce the violence; and hope in that they build relationships with others, and in their perseverance not only is the cycle of violence interrupted, but the lives of the individuals are changed for the better.

Sensitively made, gives a real insight into the situation in Chicago; and offers real hope that a leopard can indeed change its spots.

Highly recommended.

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

A complete portrait of the roots of urban violence

Author: Movie_Muse_Reviews from IL, USA
7 September 2012

The problem with gang violence in Chicago hasn't changed much (for better or worse) in decades. In that light, "The Interrupters" can't be considered timely, and it certainly doesn't expose a new and growing problem. But in focusing on a group of dedicated violence interrupters, writer Alex Kotlowitz and documentary filmmaker Steve James ("Hoop Dreams"), stepping away from his usual sports focus, capture the cycle of violence in such a complete way that you can finally start to see how it could in fact end.

CeaseFire is a violence prevention group that largely consists of former convicts and people who have spent time in prison. They dedicate a large portion of their time to being present in the communities where violence strikes and stopping conflicts before they escalate into violence. They also make themselves available as resources and confidants to individuals in need of a calming influence.

Essentially, these interrupters do what the police can't, even though none of the subjects come out and say it directly, nor does James imply it in a heavy-handed fashion. The people in these neighborhoods don't trust the police and fear the police, whereas these interrupters are adult role models who they can relate to/who can relate to them, people they respect.

James chronicles a year from summer through spring, or the most violent time of year to a time of year when hope grows anew. He focuses on the efforts of three violence interrupters and a few of the young people they each reach out to during the course of this year.

The first is Ameena Matthews, daughter of notorious Chicago gang leader Jeff Fort, who at one point became involved in a drug ring. She's easily the most magnetic figure in the film and given that families of violence victims seek her comfort specifically, it says a lot about her strength as a community leader. Throughout the film she delivers powerful and moving speeches suggestive of her strength, but as she works with a loving but emotionally troubled teenager named Caprysha, we learn even she has moments of doubt.

Next is Cobe Williams, more soft spoken, but whose prison time give him a street cred that finds him able to talk to and work with some hostile individuals. His work with a gangbanger named Flamo, who he comes into contact with at a serious boiling point, is one of the more powerful arcs in the film.

Lastly there's Eddie Bocanegra, who does art work with students but spent half his life in prison for murder. His redemption story proves more than any that there's hope for those who make these fatal mistakes.

"The Interrupters" explores the deepest depths and root causes of violence, enough to even the most self-assured pacifist consider reality that is the cycle of violence and that it's not simply a matter of just not letting it be an option. Many of the subjects discuss the role of parents being there or not there and how they are role models whether they want to be or not, as well as how violence has become part of the culture because of the value placed on pride and ego.

Like any great documentary, "The Interrupters" is a conversation starter. Yes, it's edited in a powerful way will elicit emotion, but there are so many discussions worth having based on what the subjects say and do and what we observe. It's really hard to capture the entire spectrum of the conversation on a subject as general as violence, but somehow James manages to do it. And nothing he presents is black and white (not referring to race); if you pay attention through the entire film, you rationally cannot make generalizations about the roots of violence.

There are moments when the film drags a bit as it takes a step back to cover the human interest element of the film, the tragedy of it all. That's important, but its call to action is loud and impossible to ignore, so much so that you want it to continue its search for an answer, or in this case, to see if the work CeaseFire does really makes a difference.

It certainly does. "The Interrupters" proves as much. At the same time, we become so aware of how they can only be in once place at a time. A handful of occasions during the film we hear someone talk about some act of violence unfolding somewhere else right now as the camera is rolling. It's a wake-up call that unless the City of Chicago or the government take an extensive, grass-roots approach to ending violence, there's no way that even these amazing individuals can end it.

~Steven C

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5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Meaner Streets

Author: jadepietro from United States
17 February 2012

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

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

"It's a warzone and an epidemic"

Author: Steve Pulaski from United States
8 March 2013

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.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Informative, compelling chronicle of 'Mission Impossible' team of 'Violence Interrupters', in inner city Chicago

Author: Turfseer from United States
14 February 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

'The Interrupters' is an excellent documentary about a group called CeaseFire, which primarily employs streetwise, ex-cons as 'Violence Interrupters' on the tough streets of inner city Chicago. The 'Interrupters' are reformed criminals who know the lingo of the street and go around trying to defuse potential confrontations from occurring, cooling down members of their community, who often become enraged due to minor sleights which are misinterpreted as major signs of disrespect.

The group is led by Tio Hardiman, an ex-petty street criminal who later earned a Master's Degree and now heads a "Mission Impossible" team who are 'on call' to nip any potential violent incident in the bud. Remarkably, during a staff meeting shown at the beginning of the documentary, a fight develops right outside where the Interrupters are discussing strategy, and they rush out to quell the violence which involves one youth threatening another with a knife.

'The Interrupters' focuses on the lives of three members: Ameena Matthews, an ex-Gang enforcer, now a spiritual Muslim, who has communication skills as good as any highly-trained social worker; Cobe Williams, who served 12 years for Drug Trafficking and Attempted Murder, now a gentle family man, and Eddie Bocanegra, who was incarcerated 14 years for murder, now a talented artist.

We follow these 'Interrupters' as they work on various 'assignments', troubled individuals (a good number of them young people), who are prone to acting out behavior. Matthews acts as a grief counselor for a family whose son was murdered, a case which was widely publicized on Youtube and received national attention. She speaks at the funeral and we see the devastating effect the murder had on the victim's family members. Matthews also counsels a teenager named Caprysha, who ends up back at a youth facility at film's end. She concedes that not all their interventions will be successful. In the case of Caprysha, she appears to vacillate between good conduct and bad (although I read on google that she eventually earned her high school diploma).

Cobe Williams works with two brothers who can't seem to stop fighting with one another and later gets good results with a neighborhood hothead, 'Flamo', who wants to take revenge on some thugs who beat up one of his relatives. Williams manages to calm him down and in the last segment, we see 'Flamo' has obtained a job as a security guard and is wearing the uniform, ready to head off for work.

Eddie Bocanegra not only teaches art to elementary school students but also works with a young parolee, who was sent away three years for armed robbery. There's an emotional scene where he returns to the scene of his crime, a beauty salon, and apologizes to the victims. One victim accepts his apology but still makes it clear that his actions had a devastating effect on her life. The young man eventually obtains a job as a gardener at a school and is proud that he has put his violent past behind him. Eddie would like to apologize to the family of the victim he murdered, but indicates the family is perhaps not ready to forgive him.

While 'The Interrupters' do valiant work, one wonders how effective they are at what they're doing. One Interrupter concedes that their work is only a 'band aid' and the violence simply continues unabated, all over this country. The Interrupters admit that you can't work with someone who ultimately doesn't want to change.

Steve James, known for the award-winning documentary 'Hoop Dreams', has done an excellent job showcasing the noble aims of this group. Sometimes I felt that 'The Interrupters' could have been a tad bit shorter, especially toward the end. But all in all, it's a fascinating look at how one group attempts to deal with the plague of violence, in their own community.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

A hopeful and ideal look at Chicago

Author: dejaspikes from United States
17 March 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Déja Spikes UPP 101

The director Steve James of The Interrupters takes viewers on a journey through the brutal streets of Southside Chicago and the efforts to curb the violence plaguing these streets and their residents. In The Interrupters, three violence interrupters each dwell on their past incidents with the street violence they once employed to attempt to steer young people on the right track. The documentary's primary focus is the urban violence epidemic that was running rampant on Chicago's streets during the development of the documentary. With Chicago being heavily portrayed in the media, specifically the Englewood neighborhood which was shown in the documentary, it is apparent that violence was and continues to be an issue of popular concern. Upset citizens as well as unfamiliar outsiders often express their concerns about the violent behavior, exclaiming that "something needs to be done about the crime in Chicago." The Interrupters explores the efforts of people genuinely oriented with curtailing the violence that puts Chicago's citizens, explicitly youth, at risk.

In 2011, The Interrupters' release year, Englewood had more murders than any other police district in the city (Moore 1). Englewood's crime problem is expanded because of other urban woes troubling the neighborhood. Unemployment in and around Englewood is an extraordinary 35 percent. Consequently, it is one of the poorest enclaves in Chicago (Moore 7). The documentary uses the stories of Caprysha, a teenage parolee who lives in a halfway house, "Lil' Mikey", who is recently released from prison and wanting to provide a better example for his siblings, and Flamo, a young man who is enraged by the arrest of his mother and brother and yearns for his own form of violent justice, to explore the struggles caused by crime and violence that are employed on the citizens of Chicago.

The most prominent argument of the documentary seems to be that transformation from the distorted cultural norms of crime and violence is actually conceivable through the testimonies of the three violence interrupters. This argument appears to be based on theoretical speculation, only supported by the personal accounts of the three interrupters. There was no formal research done. The individual experiences and lifestyles of the three violence interrupters serves as the formalized foundation for this philosophy. The documentary portrays the notion that although one may fall victim to the misconduct and brutality that afflicts the community, it is possible to overcome infectious obstacles with guidance and support. This argument is supported by the first interrupter, Ameena Matthews, who is a former gang member the daughter of the founder of the Black P. Stones gang. After being shot, she left the gang life and transformed into a spiritual Muslim. During The Interrupters, Matthews uses her experience and street credibility, to serve as a grief counselor for the family of Derrion Albert, a teenager whose horrific beating death made national headlines. Additionally, Matthews mentors and counsels Caprysha, providing her with tough love in the hopes of getting her to obey the terms of her parole while eventually getting her life on the right track. The argument of potential transformation is further exemplified through the second interrupter, Cobe Williams. Williams, a product of gangs, homicide and narcotics, served twelve years in prison for attempted murder and drug trafficking. Williams transformed into a devout family man and devoted his life to making sure his son had a better life than he did. Williams works with two brothers who cannot keep the peace between each other. He also mentors Flamo and "schools" him with learned knowledge to protect him from the dangers of seeking street revenge. The final illustration of the "about-face" argument is through the third interrupter, Eddie Bocanegra. Bocanegra spent fourteen years in jail for killing a rival gang member. After his release, he threw himself into community work and began teaching art classes. Bocanegra works closely with "Lil Mikey" and even takes him to the barber shop he robbed to make a heartfelt apology and further demonstrate that troublemakers do have the potential to "do the right thing". With Bocanegra's efforts to change and better himself, he wished to apologize to his victim's unforgiving family. However, through Bocanegra's work, he was ready to forgive himself. The turnaround concept seems to read true in the film. Preceding the guidance and consultancy from Cobe Williams, Flamo was able to impede his desire for pugnacious revenge and was last seen in uniform at a security job. This strengthens the theory because although Flamo spent more than half of his 32 years in prison, he was able to turn his life around with the help from someone once in his shoes. The concept also reads true regarding "Lil Mikey" who, obtained a job as a gardener and put his violent past behind him. However, this theory hits a bump in the road, Caprysha ends up back at a juvenile detention center for violation of her parole. This yields that all interventions will not be successful. In order to provide a more realistic approach as well as clearer insight into the issue of urban violence, The Interrupters should have deepened their argument by researching how often at-risk youth and young adults transform their delinquent behavior and how long this change actually lasts. The interviews with gang members and families of victims as well as graphic scenes of heightened violence seemed repetitive in its solid mindset of anger and frustration. The documentary failed to display citizens who actually are not upset with the community they live in or dispute that troublemakers will ever change their ways. A part two of the documentary would be immensely helpful to see if the interrupters' efforts were successful in the long run in regards to their interventions and to evaluate if their efforts have bettered the city of Chicago and its ills as a whole.


Moore, Natalie. "Chicago's highest murder rate in Englewood." WBEZ 91.5, 5 Jan. 2012.

"The Interrupters." Frontline. PBS. 29 July 2011.

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