interrupters_xlgStarring Tio Hardiman, Ameena Matthews, Toya Batey, Cobe Williams, Gary Slutkin, Earl Sawyer, Bud Oliver, Kenneth Oliver, Caprysha Anderson

Directed by Steve James

Expectations: High.


It’s hard to know quite what to say about The Interrupters because the power of the work being done by the people documented in the film is so important, dangerous and intense that anything I could come up with could never encapsulate it or even come close to being worthy of it. These people are true, unsung American heroes, fighting the wars waged on the streets with non-violence. They were all kids on the wrong path earlier in life, and their experiences shaped them into the people that they are today. They may have stolen, or sold drugs, or even murdered someone, but now they’re doing everything in their power to curb the rampant youth violence plaguing the streets of Chicago.

The Interrupters is about the relentless gun violence in Chicago, and a group called CeaseFire who employs “violence interrupters,” people who attack the problem on a one-on-one basis. They attempt to break through to people by connecting on a personal level, hoping to save lives and make their city a better place in the process. This is obviously hard work; Chicago is a city of 2.7 million people, and it would be easy for anyone to become overwhelmed by the feeling of helplessness in the face of such rampant crime. But these interrupters continue their work, undeterred, making a difference on the ground level. It takes a special person to stand up against such a seemingly insurmountable force and dare to push back against it, and the CeaseFire group should serve as a model to the entire country.

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