The Interrupters on Frontline

Did you miss THE INTERRUPTERS when it played at Evanston Public Library during part of the Reeltime Film series last month? Not to worry: this forceful, empathic documentary from Kartemquin Films about three “violence interrupters” working for CeaseFire on the south side of Chicago will air on Frontline on WTTW-11 at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, February 14th. It’s an extraordinarily moving film that depicts violence as a transmittable virus and, as directed by Steve James (Hoop Dreams, Stevie), it rings like a clarion call for peace, redemption, and safe youth.

To promote the upcoming broadcast, there have been a flurry of national appearances and interviews, many of them featuring Ameena Matthews, one of the three interrupters in the film. Ameena spoke about her urgent work with CeaseFire and her former life in gangs on Fresh Air and even appeared on The Colbert Report, (in an awkward segment that seemed to point up the rift between selfless work that saves lives and the callowness of sarcastic TV). And Alex Kotlowitz, author of There Are No Children Here and lead producer of The Interrupters, wrote a compelling essay, “I See Everything Through This Tragedy,” about the effects of community violence on youth for Frontline’s website. In it, he writes, “Psychologists report that children exposed to street violence show the same kind of post-traumatic stress disorder we see in veterans who’ve returned from combat. Yet there is nothing post about the trauma. They still have to navigate the perilous landscape of their neighborhood. At war, there’s a sense of common purpose, that someday there’ll be a resolution to the conflict. Not so in our inner cities.”

But nothing compares to what’s filmed. If you can’t catch The Interrupters on Frontline, the Evanston Public Library will soon make copies of the DVD available. Also, Steve James and Alex Kotlowitz continue to screen their vital film at library, civic center, community, and film house events in and around Chicago, as well as around the country. (Jarrett, The Loft).

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