The Interrupters: Documenting CeaseFire on the streets of Chicago
August 10, 2011 2:52 PM   Subscribe

The Interrupters is a new film from Steve James (Hoop Dreams) and Alex Kotlowitz (There Are No Children Here) about the work of CeaseFire's Violence Interrupters (previously), who work to prevent violence in Chicago with direct intervention and mediation. The film follows Ameena Matthews, the daughter of of a notorious gang leader; Eddie Bocanegra, who teaches art to children and is driven by remorse for a murder he committed when he was seventeen; and the charismatic Cobe Williams, who recently joined James and Kotlowitz for an interview with WFMT's Andrew Patner. Some of the videos contain strong language and scenes of violence.
posted by hydrophonic (10 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Steve James and Ameena Matthews on Fresh Air last week.
posted by The Gooch at 3:50 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Apropos of this, Chicago Magazine just started a writer in residence blog, featuring Alex Kotlowitz, I know of this, because of a fave website run by a MeFite.
posted by timsteil at 4:06 PM on August 10, 2011

Harrowing but hopeful.
posted by Doleful Creature at 4:10 PM on August 10, 2011

I'll be going to see this next week. I have been waiting patiently. I've heard some early Oscar buzz after the NYC opening. It looks very poignant.
posted by IvoShandor at 4:44 PM on August 10, 2011

From the University of Chicago Crime Lab:

"CeaseFire operates on the philosophy that violence, like any virus, is caused by certain carriers. Isolate and stop the carriers, and you stop the virus’s transmission. Practically speaking, whether avenging a fallen gang or family member, shooting someone for disrespecting you, proving yourself with a pistol, or many other reasons, young men involved with gangs are prone to lethal behavior. Dr. Slutkin’s group deploys “interrupters” to high-risk areas, targeting high-risk people, and persuading them to put down their guns. These carefully selected and screened interrupters include longtime community members, former gang members, and some who are recently out of prison. These brave men and women enter street situations where violence is about to erupt, just trying to convince potential shooters not to pull the trigger in favor of any other alternative. Interrupters do not arrest. They talk. They encourage young men to think of their families, their friends, and the consequences of their actions. But mostly, they just try and stop the shooting. CeaseFire’s impact on Chicago neighborhoods has been tremendous. In the first year of implementation alone, the communities in which CeaseFire operated experienced a 45% decrease in shootings compared to a mere 10% reduction in all of Chicago. Between June 2006 and 2007, while CeaseFire’s neighborhoods saw a 50% shooting decrease, nearby communities not operated in actually experienced a 10% increase."

If anyone finds more links to studies about Ceasefire, please post them in the thread.
posted by scunning at 4:52 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

I can't think of anything else linked to by metafilter that has led to me purchasing a ticket to something so quickly, so thank you much for posting this. I was unaware of this documentary, but I've heard nothing but praise the CeaseFire project and I've nothing but praise myself for the work of Steve James and Alex Kotlowitz.
posted by ztdavis at 5:03 PM on August 10, 2011

Thats Teny Gross, of the RI institute for the study and practice of nonviolence. Him and his wife are really great people, he helped us with access to his project in Providence and gave talks, car rides etc , I think he had a lot to do with what is called the Boston Miracle ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 11:49 PM on August 10, 2011

If I recall, it was Steve James who directed a feature length film about Prefontaine, the famed Oregon runner. The movie was filmed on campus, in Eugene. I was an extra for the film. Steve was absolutely rude. Really.

Anyways, I liked Hoop Dreams, and I hope this film puts a positive mark on the subject of gang violence.
posted by captainsohler at 12:15 AM on August 11, 2011

I loved Hoop Dreams. & it opens this week in the UK. Will definitely see it.
posted by DanCall at 5:29 AM on August 11, 2011

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