The Madeleine Brand Show

The Madeleine Brand Show is a daily, two-hour program that looks at news and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by Madeleine Brand

Frontline to air documentary "The Interrupters"

by The Madeleine Brand Show

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Interrupter, Ameena Williams, talks down a group of boys looking for retaliation after a child was gunned down. Kartemquin Films

Steve James, director of the acclaimed documentary "Hoop Dreams," revisits inner city Chicago in his new film, “The Interrupters."

The film follows three interrupters - former gang members recruited by anti-violence group, Ceasefire, to break up conflicts at the street level. The organization takes a approach to violence: by treating it like an infectious disease.

By working in the most infected areas, they're able to stop violence at the source. The interrupters profiled in the film return to their old neighborhoods to talk to the people there. And because of their history with those communities, their presence can be effective.

"[Violence] comes from a lack of respect," says Ameena Williams, one of the interrupters. "These men and women are so disrespected in a larger society that they carry around this anger that can be passed on in an instant."

Director Steve James said despite these profound problems, the people from these varied communities are able to change lives. "Person to person, day in and day out, the healing can spread like a disease too," James says.

"The Interrupters" airs tonight on PBS's "Frontline."


Steve James is best known for his movie "Hoop Dreams" (1995), which won a Peabody and Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award in 1995. The neighborhoods profiled in this film are some of the same that appear in "The Interrupters."

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