Cinema is very good at supplying us with a distraction from our daily lives, as is witnessed by
Cinema is very good at supplying us with a distraction from our daily lives, as is witnessed by the massive box-office takings of mindless entertainment such as Transformers 3. While the masses were enjoying the huge cybernetic shapeshifters battling it out on the streets of Chicago, there is a much harsher reality happening on the same streets as gang violence kills the young people who should be gawping at the latest Michael Bay extravaganza.
The Interrupters is a hard-hitting documentary, by award-winning filmmaker Steve (Hoop Dreams) James and Alex Kotlowitz, about a group of ex-gang leaders who work for an organisation called CeaseFire as violence interrupters. Basically, they intervene in street violence to stop it escalating into further deaths of young people. In the film they say that more people were killed in Chicago through gang and street violence in a year than there were US soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan combined, and often for nothing more than “bad look”. CeaseFire was founded by Gary Slutkin, an epidemiologist who worked in Africa battling the spread of AIDS and cholera, who believes that violence is just another modern epidemic. If the events in England over the last week are any indication he could have a point. This recent flare-up has certainly proved more destructive than the swine flu that the government was getting us all in a panic about.
The hero of this film is without a doubt Ameena Matthews, who must be the nightmare of every NeoCon in the US, an outspoken, black Muslim woman, who was brought up in the gang culture as the daughter of one of the city’s most notorious gang leaders. She is strong and fearless when dealing with confrontations, but patient and compassionate when helping people turn their lives around. The film also follows two other male Interrupters who show equal amounts of compassion and empathy as they help victims of violence, including people they personally harmed.
The level of violence shown in this film is truly disturbing and does make what we have witnessed here seem like nothing more than an out-of-control shopping spree, but it also offers a lot more solutions than the empty platitudes of politicians.
Current events aside, this is a must see film for anyone living in a modern metropolis. It’s a tough watch that will leave you reeling afterwards, but it does offer hope, which is what is needed from any film, a possibly a solution to our own problems of youth and gang violence. Don’t miss it.