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Frontline: The Interrupters

4.4 out of 5 stars 64 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

The Interrupters follows three individuals who with bravado, humility, and even humor, work to protect their Chicago communities from the violence they once employed. From acclaimed director Steve James and bestselling author Alex Kotlowitz, this is an intimate journey into the stubborn persistence of violence in our cities.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: .
  • Directors: Alex Kotlowitz, Steve James
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: PBS (DIRECT)
  • DVD Release Date: February 14, 2012
  • Run Time: 127 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B006JN8748
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #40,051 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
The good news: violent crime in our cities has been in decline for more than a decade. The bad news: that's cold comfort to those who live in areas where violence remains prevalent. The Interrupters is the story of a group of brave men and women who are doing something about it; as "violence interrupters," the members of CeaseFire attempt to defuse potentially deadly conflicts as they happen. Director Steve James, whose classic Hoop Dreams captured the difficulty of teenage hoopsters with startling intimacy and power, has delivered yet another haunting portrait of life in urban America, and even though there were many great documentaries in 2011, I think The Interupters was one 2011's best documentaries.
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Format: DVD
*** 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.
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Format: Amazon Video
Just amazing. The tragedy of youth violence, the redemption of the teenage thugs who grew up to become "interrupters", the real daily nitty-gritty life in these vibrant but dangerous Chicago streets ... it's all here.

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!
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
As a Muslim youth coordinator, I have shown this to our groups' 5 female youth leaders who were so impressed with Ameena Matthews, but also the other interrupters that were highlighted.e s They had dropped in to say Hi at my house and I asked if they wanted to watch a movie with me. They agreed and then when found out it was a documentary they moaned....however, it only took them 5 minutes to be so enthralled and they only groaned once during the film (when my phone rang and I had to pause it to take the call). Once it finished, the documentary trigged a fantastic 2 hours discussion. They're ages 18-22.

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.
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Format: Amazon Video Verified Purchase
This is an extraordinarily powerful film that takes us to the streets of Chicago and illuminates the courage, finesse, truth and restorative justice practices of a growing group of "Interrupters": people who go in and speak truth, provide alternatives to the cycles of murder and violence, and show that it is possible to unwind the cycles of pain and violence by caring enough to do the grassroots one on one work it takes to redirect vengeance into forgiveness and healing.

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.
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