Tag Archives: Chicago

A Letter from the Director

We are thrilled to be opening INTERRUPTERS at VCC this Friday, which is an incredible and important film to see. But don’t just take our word for it…

Dear Violet Crown Cinema goers,

I am thrilled that THE INTERRUPTERS is playing at your great new home for independent cinema in Austin.  This film was an incredibly immersive experience for me, and my partners on the film – friend and producer Alex Kotlowitz and co-producer and sound recordist Zak Piper.  We spent nearly 14 months on the streets of Chicago, shooting over 340 hours of footage to try and capture the brave efforts of “violence interrupters” who work for an organization called CeaseFire.  Daily the work to mediate violent conflicts and prevent retaliations in their communities.

For me, this film was something of a homecoming:  It was 25 years ago (God, I feel old!) that I began working on HOOP DREAMS in some of the same kinds of neighborhoods we filmed in this film.  Then as now, the threat of violence and the stress of living in forgotten communities was palpable.  For too many in these urban neighborhoods, little has changed.

Indeed, in the years since HOOP DREAMS was completed, two prominent people from that film have been senselessly murdered – Arthur Agee’s father Bo, and William Gates’ older brother Curtis.  I saw the devastating impact those losses had on their families.

Alex and I expected making THE INTERRUPTERS to be tough and depressing duty, and it was at times. But it was also profoundly moving and inspiring to see ex-gangbangers and convicts like Interrupters Cobe Williams, Ameena Matthews, and Eddie Bocanegra not just change their own lives, but really change others with whom they intervene.

And it’s this aspect of the film that has surprised audiences since its Sundance premiere and very successful festival run.  You can learn more about the film and the work of CeaseFire at theinterrupters.com.

And as Cobe says at screenings he attends:  “If you love the movie, tell everyone. If you don’t, don’t tell nobody!”

All the best,

Steve James