Film : The Interrupters Review

Following the release of the Best Documentary Feature Oscar Shortlist, more than one voice shouted, wondering why “The Interrupters” wasn’t listed. While one might have guessed this film would catch the limelight in February for a certain awards show, instead it will be via PBS, who has picked it up to air on Valentine’s Day on Frontline.

As Chicago grew to symbolize violence in America, with words like “war zone” and “epidemic” describing some of the worst neighborhoods, Kartmequin Films followed CeaseFire and “The Violence Interrupters” as they worked for peace on the streets.

The Interrupters get ‘in’ because they’ve walked the walk – they’re former addicts, hustlers and gang members. Each uses their street cred and experience, putting themselves right at the heart of disputes (and harm’s way) as conflicts arise.

Get ready for a gut punch – families torn apart, young children shot and fatal beatings. But on the other side of despair stands the Interrupters and their mission to squash violence.

Directed by Steve James (“Hoop Dreams“) and produced by Alex Kotlowitz (author of “There are No Children Here“), the filmmakers gained access to these stories through steady persistence. It took four months of filming community meetings before they were invited to capture their first mediation in action.

With each encounter the Interrupters know if they can keep someone talking, there’s hope to calm the crisis. While the news covers the stories that end in violence, in this refreshing and intimate documentary, we see what never hits the papers – the stories about people who graduate and get jobs, the lives spared from violence interrupted.

In the middle of a mediation, senior Interrupter Ameena Matthews talks two boys out of conflict and into handshakes and embraces. She lets them know she gets where they’re coming from, “You gotta play it like a big man, I gotta play it like a big girl. When I get angry I can bring some noise.” As her words intensify, she he sucks the anger out of the air and the threat dissipates.

Check local listings to catch The Interrupters on PBS.

View the official trailer:

The Interrupters NEW Official Trailer from Kartemquin Films on Vimeo.

Follow @MOKBfilm on twitter.

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