Images in Action: The Interrupters

Bridgeman was delighted to have one of our images play a small part in this astounding film about trying to break the cycle of violence in the city of Chicago.

From a Chicago shrine. Image courtesy Kartemquin Films
From a Chicago shrine. Image courtesy Kartemquin Films

 

 

Violence interrupter Ameena Matthews. Photo by Aaron Wickenden, courtesy of Kartemquin Films
Violence interrupter Ameena Matthews. Photo by Aaron Wickenden, courtesy of Kartemquin Films

 

The Interrupters is a story about three young people trying to break the cycle of violence in their Chicago neighborhood. The film follows Ameena Matthews (left), Cobe Williams and Eddie Bocanegra and the work they do for CeaseFire. The organization was founded by Gary Slutkin, an epidemiologist who believes that the spread of violence is like the spread of disease. Ameena, Cobe and Eddie, who are haunted by their own violent histories, work as ''violence interrupters," as they try to intervene in conflicts before they explode.

The film was won twelve documentary awards, most recently Best Documentary at the 2012 Independent Spirit Awards, and has been an official selection at Sundance, Sheffield and SXSW Film Festivals.

The modern problem of an epidemic of youth violence and Matthais Grunewald's 500-year old masterpiece make an interesting pair. We are always delighted when old master paintings are used to conceptualize topics not generally associated with fine art, so we asked Emily Hart, the film's researcher, why this image was chosen.

"The Temptation of St. Anthony from the Isenheim Altarpiece was used in a section of the film that describes the genesis of CeaseFire and the premise that violence is a learned behavior and transmitted like a disease.  The detail in the painting shows someone covered in boils and infected with the plague.  The violence interrupters in CeaseFire consider themselves to be like health workers stopping the spread of a great plague, but the plague they address is violence.  We were struck by the visceral way in which the painting portrayed the pain and desperation of suffering from the plague.  It made it the perfect visual metaphor for equating disease and violence."

- Emily Hart, Freelance Researcher

Take a closer look at details from the Isenheim Altarpiece.

Read more about The Interrupters.

 

XJL62329 Suffering man, detail from the reverse of the Isenheim Altarpiece, 1510-15 (oil on panel) by Matthias Grunewald
XJL62329 Suffering man, detail from the reverse of the Isenheim Altarpiece, 1510-15 (oil on panel) by Matthias Grunewald

 

 

Directed by Steve James, the award-winning director of Hoop Dreams, and produced by bestselling author Alex Kotlowitz, the film was produced by the acclaimed Chicago production company, Kartemquin Films.

 

 

Gary Slutkin, Founder and Executive Director of CeaseFire and Tio Hardiman, creator of the Interrupters program. Image courtesy of Kartemquin Films.
Gary Slutkin, Founder and Executive Director of CeaseFire and Tio Hardiman, creator of the Interrupters program. Image courtesy of Kartemquin Films.

 

 

Left to right: Cobe Williams, Eddie Bocanegra, and Tio Hardiman of CeaseFire Illinois. Image courtesy of Kartemquin Films.
Left to right: Cobe Williams, Eddie Bocanegra, and Tio Hardiman of CeaseFire Illinois. Image courtesy of Kartemquin Films.

 


Back to top