As with all Kartemquin Films projects, ensuring The Interrupters has a meaningful community impact was very important to producers Steve James and Alex Kotlowitz.
“This film seems to have a lot of applications and we’re very seriously committed to doing as substantial an outreach as we can around this film," James said. "It’s hard to break through to those communities with films like this because of the nature of the way we think of documentaries as a part of the entertainment world. It’s something that those communities don’t go see. It’s not always true, but it is harder and so that’s one thing the outreach can do too, is help us get the film into those communities in ways they won’t get there theatrically."
With this goal in mind, The Interrupters team has many outreach initiatives planned in the coming months to compliment the screenings we have already had (see the map, originally printed in The Chicago Tribune, Febraury 14 2012).
Patrick Lile, one of the film's Outreach Coordinators, was excited about all the opportunities to reach high school students, which was Steve James’ initial plan with this film.
“I've talked to high school kids whose perspective on documentaries comes from watching boring films in science class, but they see The Interrupters and say ‘It’s just like a regular film,'" Lile said. "For some this is the first time they've seen a documentary like this that speaks directly to their world."
"Since the film's premiere this summer, not a week goes by that a school hasn't reached out to The Interrupters Outreach Team and we are making it a priority to screen this film for high school and college aged students."
The collaboration between the violence interrupters in the film and Kartemquin didn't end when the cameras stopped rolling, but instead the outreach campaign has forged an even stronger partnership.
“I was essentially speechless but was trying to moderate the discussion,” Lile said of (this summer's Youth Media Summit). “To watch how (the violence interrupters) worked and talked to the kids. It was an adult listening to the kid tell them the way things are. Very different than them being lectured.”
The outreach screenings also aim to move beyond just conversation and provide people with outlets other than violence. For example, Lile said that at a Philadelphia screening, a dance group called The Dollarboyz came to show dance as an alternative to violence. "For the Philadelphia event it was a dance troupe, for another after school program it may be a video project they are working on, but giving young people a choice other than the streets continues to be a goal."
Says Lile: "While Chicago will continue to see it's fair share of outreach screenings, Baltimore, Oakland, Kansas City, Philadelphia, Washington DC and Columbus, Ohio are all cities that we plan on coordinating efforts between their local violence prevention programs, high schools, community groups and their city governments for future outreach events. For almost a year now, these cities and their concerned citizens have been persistent in trying to coordinate more and more community events around this film and we want to make their community goals a reality."
The film will also be launching a new webpage — www.interruptviolence.com — geared toward outreach with educational modules, statistics and smaller webisodes. This new website is designed to continue the impact of the film for years to come.
In partnership with the Peace Alliance there will be a wave of “house parties” in February and March which are smaller, intimate screenings of The Interrupters that focus on a social media conversation to keep the discussion going after the movie ends. The ultimate aim of these screenings is to drive political action and awareness around the Youth Promise Act, which is bipartisan legislation to give communities funding and support to stop youth violence. Host a screening of your own!
Outreach efforts have reached national and international audiences. The map on the left shows states with outreach partners or specific outreach screenings. Some partners include Aim4Peace in Kansas City, StreetSafe Boston, Safe City in Denver and The Advancement Project in Los Angeles.
There have also been screenings of the film in Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Brazil, Bermuda, South Africa and many more countries. International TV broadcasts will occur throughout most of Africa in 2012, and have already happened in Sweden, Denmark, Canada and Great Britain.
“In true Kartemquin fashion, we are trying to put together a significant outreach plan for the film that can try and target communities in need,” James said. “The film or modules from the film hopefully can play some role in those communities and be part of the solution to these issues. Kartemquin has always prided itself on not just making films for their information and educational value, but can actually be used by people and used by people who do care about these issues or work on these issues.”
With a noted tradition of nurturing emerging talent and acting as a leading voice for independent media, Kartemquin is building on more than 50 years of history as Chicago’s documentary powerhouse.
Kartemquin is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization. Guidestar
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