Giving thanks for The Interrupters Youth Media Summit

With only a week to go until the Chicago theatrical run of The Interrupters, Kartemquin would like to thank The Chicago Community Trust, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, and the Polk Bros. Foundation for providing generous support to The Interrupters local outreach efforts, including a Youth Media Summit, and both Chicago private film premiere events. Their support allowed us a local launch of the film's outreach and engagement campaign and made possible a "friends and family" theatrical premiere in Chicago -- even before NYC!  We are so grateful!


July kicked off a busy month for the film, as The Interrupters Youth Media Summit brought together nearly 100 students from youth media groups from across the city.  The students spent a Saturday afternoon at Columbia College Chicago’s Film Row Cinema and were among the first people in the city to have a chance to the see The Interrupters.  After the screening, filmmakers Steve James and Alex Kotlowitz were joined for a Q&A by some of Chicago’s very own interrupters from Ceasefire, including those featured in the film – Ameena Matthews, Eddie Bocanegra and Ceasefire director, Tio Hardiman.


The students then had an opportunity to speak their minds, as everyone attending the event moved into classrooms for breakout groups designed to allow the students to talk about the problems and possible solutions to the violence that plague their neighborhoods.  The interrupters, the filmmakers and the Kartemquin staff all had a chance to be a part of the small groups, giving young people a forum to be heard.    


In an anonymous survey, one of the teenagers commented, “My favorite part [of the day] was the group portion at the end because it showed how much everyone cares.  It was nice to see a lot of good ideas tossed around.” 


The students expressed interest in more public screenings of The Interrupters throughout the city and the need for more mentors and community programs as an alternative to the gangs and violence that plague Chicago. 


But clearly the message of the film resonated with the young people:

“I learned that everyone deserves a second chance.  And people who have lived a negative lifestyle can uplift the community with positivity.”

"Violence effects us all and we must speak out against it."

"Community is the reason for stopping violence."

"Heroes come from within. Change the conversation."


After the breakout groups, the students reconvened in the theater for the day’s closing remarks from Chicago Public Schools CEO - Jean-Claude Brizard, who applauded the students’ hard work and passion for the film’s issues.  But the day was summed up best in one the student’s anonymous surveys - “Change brings wonder, change is hope.  Anybody can be influenced to do the right thing.“


Kartemquin would like to thank all the groups who participated in the event and those who donated space, food and drinks for such an important issue. View photos from the event on The Interrupters Facebook page.


Columbia College Chicago for donating the 8th Floor Film Row Cinema.

Strack & Van Til Food Market for their beverage donation.

Reggio's Pizza

And the participating organizations: 

Better Boys Foundation

Columbia Links

Community Film Workshop of Chicago

Community TV Network Chicago

North Lawndale Community News

Free Spirit Media

Open Youth Networks

Southwest Youth Collaborative

True Star Foundation

We The People Media