Chicago & the Violence Epidemic: The Interrupters

What if violence is a disease? Or a sickness? The recent Frontline documentary the Interrupters brings us face-to-face with a culture of violence that is deeply embedded in the south side of Chicago, right at Moraine Valley’s back door. This is a powerful, painful, and shocking documentary that includes graphic language and reference to serious violence. This documentary challenges us and all of America to look at this problem and not treat it like a problem that only exists in the city.

Watch The Interrupters (Graphic Language) on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

Description from the Frontline press release: From acclaimed producer-director Steve James (Hoop Dreams) and best-selling author-turned-producer Alex Kotlowitz (There Are No Children Here), The Interrupters is an unusually intimate journey into the stubborn persistence of violence in our cities. The New York Times says the film “has put a face to a raging epidemic and an unforgivable American tragedy.”

The interrupters work for an innovative organization, CeaseFire, which is the brainchild of epidemiologist Gary Slutkin, who for 10 years battled the spread of cholera and AIDS in Africa. Slutkin believes that the spread of violence mimics that of infectious diseases, and so the treatment should be similar: Go after the most infected, and stop the infection at its source.

Shot over the course of a year out of Kartemquin Films in Chicago, The Interrupters follows Ameena, Eddie and Cobe as they attempt to intervene in situations before those situations turn violent: two brothers threatening to shoot each other; an angry teenage girl just home from prison; a young man heading down a warpath of revenge. The film captures not only the interrupters’ work, but reveals their own inspired journeys from crime to hope and, ultimately, redemption. 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.

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