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The Interrupters (FRONTLINE)

DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Product Description

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.

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4.0 out of 5 stars IMPORTANT WORK BEING DONE Aug. 16 2013
Format:DVD
This is important stuff. Why does a significant portion of the African-American community keep hurting, keep killing itself off? Deep deep issues that aren't addressed by society at large.But they are costing everybody. In crime , drugs, jails being built. And no real rehabilitation so it all starts again. This is a culture where the family has ben absolutely decimated. No one should be surprised at the result anymore. We live in an era without leaders. So it's up to people like the Interrupters -people like us- to start the healing.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful, gut-wrenching, and deeply inspiring Aug. 9 2013
Format:DVD
I found this documentary absolutely riveting. Filmed in Chicago’s South Side, it follows the stories of three members of CeaseFire, an organization made up largely of former gang members who now dedicate themselves to trying to defuse or mediate conflict in their neighbourhoods before it erupts into violence. In addition to trying to interrupt potential violence in the moment, these “violence interrupters” also take on the less dramatic but perhaps even more important long-term work of acting as mentors and support people to youth at risk and ex-offenders. (One of the most memorable scenes in the film shows an interrupter accompanying a young man recently released from prison as he goes with trepidation to offer an apology to staff of the small business that he had held up at gunpoint.) Powerful, gut-wrenching, and deeply inspiring.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  49 reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Interrupters Feb. 14 2012
By A kids review - Published on Amazon.com
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.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative, compelling chronicle of 'Mission Impossible' team of 'Violence Interrupters', in inner city Chicago Feb. 14 2012
By Turfseer - Published on Amazon.com
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. She speaks at the funeral and we see the devastating effect the murder had on the victim's family members. Matthews also counsels a teenager named Caprysha, who ends up back at a youth facility at film's end. She concedes that not all their interventions will be successful. In the case of Caprysha, she appears to vacillate between good conduct and bad (although I read on google that she eventually earned her high school diploma).

Cobe Williams works with two brothers who can't seem to stop fighting with one another and later gets good results with a neighborhood hothead, 'Flamo', who wants to take revenge on some thugs who beat up one of his relatives. Williams manages to calm him down and in the last segment, we see 'Flamo' has obtained a job as a security guard and is wearing the uniform, ready to head off for work.

Eddie Bocanegra not only teaches art to elementary school students but also works with a young parolee, who was sent away three years for armed robbery. There's an emotional scene where he returns to the scene of his crime, a beauty salon, and apologizes to the victims. One victim accepts his apology but still makes it clear that his actions had a devastating effect on her life. The young man eventually obtains a job as a gardener at a school and is proud that he has put his violent past behind him. Eddie would like to apologize to the family of the victim he murdered, but indicates the family is perhaps not ready to forgive him.

While 'The Interrupters' do valiant work, one wonders how effective they are at what they're doing. One Interrupter concedes that their work is only a 'band aid' and the violence simply continues unabated, all over this country. The Interrupters admit that you can't work with someone who ultimately doesn't want to change.

Steve James, known for the award-winning documentary 'Hoop Dreams', has done an excellent job showcasing the noble aims of this group. Sometimes I felt that 'The Interrupters' could have been a tad bit shorter, especially toward the end. But all in all, it's a fascinating look at how one group attempts to deal with the plague of violence, in their own community.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heroes saving kids' lives in modern America March 9 2013
By David Gertler - Published on Amazon.com
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!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Muslim Youth and Adults Loved it! Jan. 7 2014
By AliyaD - Published on Amazon.com
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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gang reality in Chi Town Aug. 19 2013
By Tom - Published on Amazon.com
This movie brings you into the lives of some ex gang members that are now doing something about the violence in Chicago...interupting it if for at least that moment.
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