I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback about my last blog post, “Ten Films.” It seems that these movies are largely underseen by my friends and readers, so I’m very excited to announce a unique viewing opportunity of one of these films! Over the next two Sunday afternoons, my beloved community Grace Commons will be screening Steve James’ 2011 documentary The Interrupters along with guest speakers and discussion. I will definitely be at part II, and am very sad to miss part I, which will feature discussion led by the always-inspiring, deeply-informed and drop-dead-hilarious Andrea Kirksey, city director of DOOR Network Chicago.
Released in 2011, The Interrupters chronicles a year in the life of three violence interrupters working for the Chicago-based group CeaseFire. The interrupters, all with criminal pasts, make it their business to be a presence in violence-plagued neighborhoods, help prevent situations from escalating to violence, and literally interrupt violence when it occurs. Heavy stuff. As journalism, this is a deeply nuanced portrait of people involved in a stigmatized issue. As cinema, it is breathtaking, gripping and cathartic in ways that make “intense” films like Whiplash seem trite and shameful. (An aside: look for my forthcoming blog post on that piece of garbage)! Steve James demonstrates once again his unrivaled ability to utilize narrative in the documentary medium. His emotional arcs and cinematic bravura are never at the cost of his subjects’ dignity, integrity and purpose. Likewise, his presentation of real people in real places doing real things is never anything less than great cinema.
These screenings and discussions are taking place on February 15 and 22 at 3:30pm at St. James Presbyterian Church 6554 N Rockwell Ave Chicago, IL. The film is rated R; all of appropriate age are welcome and invited!