Intimate documentary exploring gun crime in the US
Best known for his epic account of teenaged African-American basketball hopefuls Hoop Dreams, director Steve James returns in collaboration with the writer Alex Kotlowitz to inner-city Chicago for this sprawling documentary, which focuses on the work of various ‘interrupters’. Members of the CeaseFire organisation, these individuals seek to intervene in gangland disputes before they degenerate into often-fatal violence. The epidemiologist Gary Slutikin, the founder of CeaseFire, observes how violence spreads in these afflicted communities like a virus: it’s necessary therefore to treat those already infected by the disease.
Shot over a 14-month period, in which there were calls by local politicians to deploy the National Guard in Chicago to stem the death toll, the film hones in on three particular activists-cum-mentors. There’s Eddie Bocanegra, who committed a murder when he was 17, Cobe Williams, who spent some 13 years in prison for drugs-related activities, and the charismatic Ameena Matthews, the daughter of a notorious gangster Jeff Forte and herself a reformed criminal. James and Kotlowitz’s immersive, intimate approach pays off, allowing us to enter the lives of this remarkable trio and those they seek to assist in conflict resolution. Amidst the pain and despair of the world it portrays, The Interrupters offers the possibility of hope and even redemption.
Selected release from Fri 12 Aug.