Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

No Shots Fired 

Wednesday, Aug 31 2011
Inspired by a 2008 New York Times Magazine article by Alex Kotlowitz, Steve James' commanding documentary The Interrupters, about "violence interrupters" in Chicago, who intervene in conflicts before they escalate into gunshots, unfolds as deeply reported journalism. Much like Hoop Dreams (1994), James' in-depth examination of the athletic aspirations of two African-American high school students, The Interrupters reminds us of the powers and pleasures of well-crafted, immersive nonfiction filmmaking — a genre vitiated within the past five years by a glut of cruddy-looking, poorly researched and argued titles. Spanning the summer of 2009 to the spring of 2010, James' film follows the work of CeaseFire, an organization founded by epidemiologist Gary Slutkin, who equates violence with an infectious disease, insisting that its spread can be combated the way one would contain an outbreak of cholera or TB: by going after the most infected areas and stopping the sickness at its source. The heart of The Interrupters is the steadfast efforts of three CeaseFire workers: Ameena Matthews, Cobe Williams, and Eddie Bocanegra, who all have criminal records, like most of the organization's outreach employees; their histories give them not just street cred but an understanding of how to defuse volatile disputes. Unlike a majority of recent high-profile documentaries, The Interrupters doesn't rely on cute graphics or charts to convey its facts. James trusts that his audience is patient and intelligent enough to piece together Chicago's history of violence simply by watching — and listening to — what's onscreen.
Sept. 9-15, 2011

About The Author

Melissa Anderson

Related Locations


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"