Frontline: The Interrupters
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'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.Read more ›
Like James's earlier "Hoop Dreams", this movie is not purely about happy-sappy feel-good endings; there's progress, there's frustration, and you know that tomorrow will bring gunshots and ambulances and crying mothers within blocks of where this was all filmed. But the way this group of brave people worked to make small differences (that can add up to big changes) left me awed. Cobe and Ameena and Eddie will stick with you as examples of what young hoodlums can grow up to be ... and why we shouldn't give up on even "hopeless" kids.
Yeah, the movie did run a bit long, but I was so glad I stuck with it to hear the incendiary "Flamo" talk about how one interrupter was so persistent, like a fly buzzing around his ear while he slept. In a Hollywood movie, that might have sounded bogus, but here it's so real and inspiring that your breath might just catch in your throat.
My highest recommendation - SEE IT!
Similarly, my own family (adults and pre-teens) were so focused when I showed it to them a day later. It is a must see for everyone and a double must see for Muslim female youth who are interested in seeing a Muslim woman making a huge difference in her life and the lives of others....despite her "checkered past". Having lived and taught in Chicago when gang violence was a regular thing in the early 90s, this documentary makes the situation real to people who have never experienced such violence in their personal lives or in their communities.
Perpetrators are often victims themselves, and this film provides ample evidence that it is possible to interrupt violence even in the most extreme cases. We get to see this in action as the camera crew goes into real situations of conflict and the full stop, on-the-spot cycle breaking that Ameena Matthews and other Interrupters do in some of the most difficult and complex scenarios, risking their own lives to help retrieve people from the endless cycle of gang violence and murder.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Everyone who is concerned about gun violence should see this movie. It portrays the work done by the Cure Violence program, which works to reduce shootings and killings. Read morePublished 9 months ago by heisable
Great documentary! Cobe and his friends are doing a remarkable job!Published 10 months ago by Terry Schneider
one of my most favorite documentaries, I recommend, as I am a teacher, to any teacher to share this with your students. It is very worth the whilePublished 12 months ago by Polly Punster