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      The Interrupters

      Released Jul 29, 2011 2 hr. 5 min. Documentary Crime Drama List
      99% 93 Reviews Tomatometer 82% 5,000+ Ratings Audience Score Members of the activist group CeaseFire work to curb violence in their Chicago neighborhoods by intervening in street fights and showing youths a better way to resolve conflicts. Read More Read Less

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      The Interrupters

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      The Interrupters

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      Critics Consensus

      Impeccably crafted and edited, The Interrupters is a tough and honest documentary about street violence that truly has the power to inspire change.

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      Audience Reviews

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      Audience Member If you haven't yet heard of The Interrupters, you haven't been paying close enough attention to 2011's slate of great movies. Steve James' latest documentary tackles the intractable problem of gang violence in Chicago with a very hands-off approach that helps him achieve moments of gut-wrenching honesty. The film's thesis will dismay you, though you'll be simultaneously uplifted by the courage and strength of our three heroes. It's far from easy to watch, but right from the outset, you'll find yourself glued to the screen-not exactly an easy feat for a non-fiction film. The film follows Chicago's violence interrupters-a group made up primarily of former gang members who are dedicated to stopping the gang-related killings that are plaguing their city. Three of these individuals-Ameena Matthews, Eddie Bocanegra, and Cobe Williams-share their stories of overcoming personal challenges and finding forgiveness for their past mistakes. It's this that motivates them to do whatever they can to salvage the lives of other young people in whom they see a little too much of their former selves. One of the most interesting things about The Interrupters is the different styles employed by its three main characters. Matthews leads through charisma and sheer willpower. She's a frighteningly good speaker, perhaps because she's let's her heart do the talking, and it's impossible to not watch her and really listen to what she has to say. Williams, meanwhile, has a more low-key approach. He befriends people, let's them know he's there for him, and really follows-up. One of the film's best stories involves a man named Flamo. Flamo's family had just been arrested because a rival set them up. His initial response was to go down to the man's house, guns blazing. But Williams takes him for a ride and rationalizes the situation with him. Yes, it sucks, but what's killing someone going to do. One of the film's final moments shows Flamo going to work, a calmer and much happier man. It's a startling image, and one that wouldn't likely be possible without Williams' intervention. Then, there's Eddie Bocanegra, who has perhaps the hardest time coping with his past. Though his two colleagues have done their fair share of time, Eddie's time was for murder, something he struggles a great deal with. He spends most days visiting a school, talking with the kids, and showing them other ways in which they can express their anger, sadness, and fear. Other days, however, he spends at the grave of the man whose life he took. It's something you're unaccustomed to-feeling deep sympathy for a convicted murderer-but this is just another in the long line of accomplishments by James and his crew. There's no way you can deny what Steve James has accomplished here. This is one of the finest documentaries I've ever seen, and easily one of the best films of 2011. It shows a slice of society that the majority of us pretends doesn't even exist, and it does so in such a way that will both dismay and uplift you. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 02/10/23 Full Review Audience Member I found this pretty interesting as are most of the people involved. It reminded me of the Guardian Angels in New York a lot. It's way too long though, as a one hour TV programme this would have been perfect, at over 2 hours it felt very stretched. Some really touching scenes mind you. Rated 2.5 out of 5 stars 02/04/23 Full Review Audience Member Fifteen years after his groundbreaking, outstanding Hoop Dreams, director Steve James returns with this vital, extraordinary documentary that returns him to the streets of Chicago with journalist Alex Kotlowitz. Together they put an all too human face on inner city violence. The two men and one woman featured in this powerful film are known as 'violence interrupters'. Their mission is to step in and mediate situations so as to deter violence before it even begins. All of them are former gang member and violent offenders themselves. James' once again demonstrates the importance of attention to detail. It's essential viewing. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 02/20/23 Full Review Audience Member Makes its case convincingly: a violent culture needs a strong religion. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 02/08/23 Full Review Audience Member Podcast: Is violence actually an infectious disease? Will our current, 'carrot and stick' approach be one day looked at with the same ridicule as those who locked up people with illness during the middle ages due to a belief that they were possessed by demonic spirits? The evidence shows that this could be the case. In one year in Chicago, using violence 'interrupters', people with street cred to go into violence plagued communities and talk down people using words rather than military hardware that we saw recently in Ferguson, demonstrates significant results in actually reducing the seemingly endless cycle of violence. Whilst the actual story here is brilliant, and one that has been replicated with success across America, I feel that there is not a strong sense of narrative drive, that Director Steve James demonstrated in his ground breaking doco, "Hoop Dreams" 20 years ago. Instead of linking the Chicago story into the broader narrative of what was achieved across the US, we are only told the story of a single, gritty city. This is not to take anything away from the success Chicago did achieve, but if you are interested further in the concept of violence 'interrupters', check out Gary Slutkin's mind bending Ted Talk from last year: Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 02/26/23 Full Review Audience Member Sad, scary, eye opening. Powerful. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 01/18/23 Full Review Read all reviews Post a rating

      Cast & Crew

      Critics Reviews

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      Chris Vognar Dallas Morning News Ameena Matthews, Cobe Williams and Eddie Bocanegra used to instigate Chicago street violence. Now they live for nipping it in the bud, block by treacherous block. Rated: A- Dec 8, 2011 Full Review Liam Lacey Globe and Mail Where James's film excels is as direct experiential cinema -- without narration, onscreen interviews or acknowledgment of the presence of the camera -- it is an intensely dramatic window into a world. Rated: 3/4 Oct 7, 2011 Full Review Peter Howell Toronto Star A sobering but not hopeless look at how the Windy City is attempting to turn around a rising tide of street shooting, through the work of a unique group called CeaseFire. Rated: 3.5/4 Oct 6, 2011 Full Review Allen Almachar The MacGuffin It's a heart wrenching tale of a few brave souls who take it upon themselves to step deep into this world ... and do what they can to prevent further tragedy from happening. Rated: A+ Aug 3, 2020 Full Review B. Ruby Rich Film Quarterly A one-woman peace squad, [Ameena Matthews] burns up the screen whenever she's on it. Feb 28, 2020 Full Review Noah Berlatsky Splice Today The Interrupters makes the case that if you want less killing, you need, not more guns, but more neighbors. Sep 16, 2019 Full Review Read all reviews

      Movie Info

      Synopsis Members of the activist group CeaseFire work to curb violence in their Chicago neighborhoods by intervening in street fights and showing youths a better way to resolve conflicts.
      Steve James
      Executive Producer
      Teddy Leifer, Justine Nagan, Gordon Quinn
      Alex Kotlowitz
      Cinema Guild
      Production Co
      Kartemquin Films, Rise Films
      Documentary, Crime, Drama
      Original Language
      Release Date (Theaters)
      Jul 29, 2011, Limited
      Release Date (Streaming)
      Mar 1, 2016
      Box Office (Gross USA)
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