The Interrupters: One Year of Impact

Posted on July 16, 2012

Steve James’s acclaimed documentary The Interrupters — about the Chicago-based anti-violence group CeaseFire — continues to leave its mark on policymakers and community members.


Earlier this year, a screening of the film before Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, may have helped inspire the city to offer an unprecedented $1 million grant toward CeaseFire to hire 40 interrupters to mediate conflicts in local districts. “The visibility of the work of Ceasefire's Interrupters program has helped to change the dialogue about violence in Chicago from sound bites on the news to deeper issues affecting families and communities,” said Gordon Quinn, co-founder of Kartemquin Films, in an email to BTB. Kartemquin is the Chicago-based, non-profit that produced the documentary and has been a longtime champion of independent films and producers.

In celebration of the film’s impact, the organization has collected key moments from The Interrupters launch — including its PBS premiere on FRONTLINE, earlier this year.            

Watch The Interrupters on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

In another email to BTB, acclaimed filmmaker Steve James offered his thoughts on the City of Chicago’s generous reaction to the ITVS-funded film:

"I get asked often what impact documentaries have and my default position has always been that I’ve seen documentaries impact individuals in dramatic ways, but it’s harder to make the leap that they have a measurable impact on institutions or the wider society. So I was thrilled to hear the news that the City of Chicago is giving CeaseFire $1 million after Mayor Emmanuel had seen the film and participated in a vigorous discussion of violence at an outreach event.   To whatever extent the film played a role in the city supporting CeaseFire for the first time ever, it’s a testament not just to the film but the courage of Cobe, Ameena, Eddie and everyone who puts their lives on the line every day as Violence Interrupters.”

Keep up with the film’s continued impact on Kartemquin’s website.


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