One of the last podcast episodes that we recorded with Travis, before he went on tour, was a discussion of Steve James’ incredible documentary, Hoop Dreams. While I’m notoriously opposed to enjoying sports, and especially sports movies, I absolutely loved Hoop Dreams. The dedication that James had while shooting the film over the course of several years, is truly admirable.
Next week, the film world will converge on the tiny mountain town of Park City, Utah, for the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, and Steve James’ new project will be shown. The Interrupters focuses on the lives of a group of people working to stop the violence on their streets of Chicago. Kartemquin films is producing the film, and wrote the following for the film’s IMDB page:
The stubborn, persistence of violence in our urban centers is both troubling and perplexing. And Chicago has been at the epicenter, particularly with the recent brutal beating of a Chicago Public School student caught on videotape. As Tio Hardiman of the group CeaseFire asks: “Why the madness?” The Interrupters tells the story of a group of men and women in Chicago – most of whom are in their 40s and 50s, most of them former gang leaders who have been privy to, if not participants in the brutality of the streets. They now work for CeaseFire, and they have a singular mission: to interrupt the flow of violence. The program is the brainchild of epidemiologist Gary Slutkin, who for ten years battled infectious diseases in Africa. Slutkin believes that the spread of violence mimics that of infectious diseases like tuberculosis and AIDS. Therefore the treatment should be similar: go after the most infected…
Kartemquin recently released the trailer and poster for the film, and I’m including them below. While we had great intentions of covering the Sundance Film Festival this year, our finances did not allow that to happen. We will cover the festival as much as we can from our respective caves across the country, and will even manage to get a few reviews up on the site thanks to screeners sent out by the publicists.
This is a film that I cannot wait to see, and I hope it makes it’s way to Portland soon. So often with documentaries, you can feel the director and editor manipulate you into whatever emotional state that they’re going for, but with James I truly feel that he allows the subject matter to speak for itself. While of course there is a tremendous amount of editing going on in his films, I always feel that I walk away a better person for having seen them.
Here are the screening times for The Interrupters at Sundance:
9:00pm Friday January 21st
9:00pm Friday January 22nd
9:00pm Friday January 28th
9:45pm Friday January 29th
From the Official Website:
The stubborn persistence of violence in our urban centers is both troubling and perplexing. And Chicago has been at the epicenter, particularly with the brutal beating last year of a Chicago Public School student that was caught on videotape. As Tio Hardiman of the group CeaseFire asks: ‘Why the madness?’
The Interrupters tells the story of a group of men and women in Chicago ‘” most of them former gang leaders who have been privy to, if not participants themselves in the brutality of the streets. They now work for CeaseFire, and they have a singular mission: to interrupt the next shooting. The program is the brainchild of epidemiologist Gary Slutkin, who for ten years battled the spread of cholera and AIDS in Africa. Slutkin believes that the spread of violence mimics that of infectious diseases. Therefore the treatment should be similar: go after the most infected, and stop the infection at its source. He’s recognized that most street violence is caused by tit-for-tat retaliation or retribution for personal slights.
The Interrupters, whose reputations command respect in their neighborhoods (in public health terms they’re thought of as ‘credible messengers’), intervene in disputes before they turn violent. In The Interrupters, they reveal their own stories while taking us deep into the troubled lives of others: a family where two brothers have threatened to kill each other; an angry teenaged girl just home from prison, desperate for guidance; a young man on a warpath of revenge.
The Interrupters go about their work with a combination of bravado, humility and even humor, and yet their work is fraught with moral quandaries, as they walk a precipitous line: stepping between adversaries (sometimes people they know), figuring out their relationship with the police and resisting the lure of the very streets which gave them their reputations. As they venture into their communities, they confront the importance of family, the noxious nature of poverty, and the place of race. And they do it with incredible candor and directness.
From acclaimed director Steve James (Hoop Dreams, Stevie) and bestselling author Alex Kotlowitz (There Are No Children Here, The Other Side of the River) in partnership with ITVS, Frontline, and Rise Films, The Interrupters is an unusually intimate and provocative journey into the debilitating effects of the thousands of shootings each year in our urban centers. This is a film that goes to the center of ‘the madness,’ in an attempt to grapple with the causes of the violence, and more importantly with how we might best defuse it.