A documentary about brave Americans named the Interrupters is doing good business around the country and opening in additional theaters. This is Bill Kurtis speaking for Roger Ebert.
The film tells the story of a group of Chicago volunteers, who monitor gang activity in their neighborhoods and try to anticipate and prevent possible violence. Gang violence is the leading cause of death among young Americans. Taking far more lives in Chicago alone than are troops in Iraq or Afghanistan.
The Interrupters are themselves former gang members; most of them ex-convicts, who go into the streets daily to try and talk gang members out of shooting each other. The director of the film is Steve James. The same man who made “Hoop Dreams,” one of the most powerful documentaries I’ve ever seen. He and his team spent more than a year following the Interrupters.
In some shots of this film, they are physically in the line of fire, and so are Steve James and his small crew.
They might as well be in a war zone. The group is named Cease Fire. They hold a harrowing round table to report other events in their districts and share their plans.
The Interrupters is based on reporting by Alex Kotlowitz, who covered a period of intense violence in Chicago. He co-produced this film about laborious, heroic and often fruitless work. Today when I read yet another of a senseless gang killing, I find some small consolation in the thought that it could be worse. This is a great film.