The Interrupters buzzes out of Sundance

Steve James and Alex Kotlowitz flew home from the Sundance Film Festival this weekend, the last to leave from Park City of our 40+ entourage of The Interrupters crew, Kartemquin staff members, Ceasefire violence interrupters and their families. All of them can look back on a festival which was a great success for the film and for Kartemquin.

The Interrupters is currently leading an IndieWIRE poll asking "What buzz-heavy 2011 Sundance film are you most excited to see?" and also placed 3rd on IndieWIRE's critics poll of the best documentaries at the festival, ahead of all others into its category of Sundance "Documentary Premieres". The website's own critic Eric Kohn gave the film a strong review, stating: "a distributor committed to marketing its anti-violence message as an extension of the interrupters work might be able to catapult it to widespread acclaim and Oscar potential."

David Poland of Movie City News agreed on his blog, writing: "look for Steve James’ The Interrupters to win next year’s Oscar for Best Documentary and to stir controversy around its eventual PBS airing."

Scott Knopf at FilmThreat.com also raved about the film, claiming: "The Interrupters deserves the same levels of praise that Hoop Dreams received. It’s a well-crafted film with captivating subjects and brutal honestly. It’s rare that even after 162 minutes, a film leaves the viewer wanting even more. But that’s definitely the case with this film."

In The Hollywood Reporter, John DeFore wrote: "An eye-opening account of efforts to end an epidemic of violence in Chicago, The Interrupters alternates between shocking glimpses of how bad things have gotten there and a surprisingly convincing optimism about new methods of addressing the problem. Fresh and urgent, it holds a strong appeal for viewers."

The film was also called "an epic chronicle of American gang warfare determined to show the good in every devil and the latent evil in every angel" by Dan Mecca of The Film Stage, and in Variety, Peter DeBruge stated: "The Interrupters challenges assumptions from both Hollywood (with its need for happy endings) and the news media (whose alarmism suggests that intervention is a lost cause), building a case for cautious optimism and slow, incremental progress."

Watch a video interview with Steve James from Park City, in which he explains the film's title. The film was also discussed on NPR's Tell Me More, featured in New York Magazine's list of the best films at Sundance, and Steve and Alex were interviewed by the LA Times, where they discussed why the film's running time - invariably a subject of discussion in most reviews - was justified in looking to achieve "a certain depth and epic quality" ahead of being "commercially marketable." 

If all of the above wasn't enough of a recommendation that you see the film, perhaps violence interrupter Cobe Williams can convince you in this video taken from Park City:

See previous Sundance round-ups for The Interrupters about pre-festival buzz and after the opening weekend.