WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 19: Academy Award-winning director Steve James made his latest film The Interrupters in collaboration with producer and author Alex Kotlowitz. It is screening as part of the Bermuda Documentary Film Festival this Friday. Here are excerpts of comments by the director about the film.


For me, making The Interrupters, feels like a homecoming...I guess you could say my heart and soul belongs to Chicago.

When I first read Alex’s (Kotlowitz) New York Times Magazine cover story on CeaseFire, it struck a chord with me in the way it vividly told the story of an organization trying to find a new way to impact what has seemed an intractable problem in these communities for decades, one that no longer made headlines, perhaps leaving people numb or resigned to it. So I called Alex up and said, we may have found the film project to do together.

Filming began in earnest in the Spring of 2009. We shot over 300 hours during the next 14 months. The core team during the production phase was Alex, co-producer and sound recordist Zak Piper, and myself. We wanted to keep the crew small enough to encourage an essential intimacy and authenticity. For this reason, I also handled the camera to eliminate the need for one other crew member. We also hope The Interrupters challenges viewers on their assumptions about these communities, and encourages them to care. And maybe even to act.

People ask me: “Wasn’t it incredibly dangerous and depressing?” The truth is we never felt in any true danger, in large part because of the respect commanded by our interrupter subjects in their communities. CeaseFire employees Cobe, Ameena, and Eddie took good care of us. They are extraordinary people for the lives they’ve lived and the lives they’ve saved. Two men and one woman — ex-gangbangers, convicts and street players  who’d once been part of the violence they were now bravely trying to interrupt.

Click here for screening information.