The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, August 17-23

nyc repertory cinema-interrupters

The Interrupters (2011)
Directed by Steve James
In the five years since I first saw James’s indelible documentary, I’ve never heard about another killing in Southside Chicago without thinking about The Interrupters’ stars: Ameena Matthews, Cobe Williams and Eddie Bocanegra. Former gangbangers who abhor the violence they perpetrated and bear the scars of the harm done to them, they are now “violence interrupters” with a program that treats violence as a socially transmitted disease rather than an individual failure. The interrupters aim to disrupt the vicious cycle of violence by helping their neighbors manage their emotions and learn new patterns of behavior, choosing not to react to insults and attacks with more of the same. James’s tiny crew (three people, including him) anatomizes Chicago’s violence pandemic close-up and from many angles, attending monthly meetings where the interrupters strategize and compare notes, learning about the three leads’ backgrounds and the paths they found out of the mayhem, and tracking their fitful progress and their enormous outpouring of effort and love as they work with several of their cases. If Chicago’s violence epidemic is ever cured, it will surely be largely through the heroic interventions of people like these. Elise Nakhnikian (August 19, 7pm on Opening Night of the Museum of the Moving Image’s Kartemquin Films retrospective; Steve James will be on hand for the 162-minute original cut of the film, never released theatrically)