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'The Interrupters' a portrait of hope amid violence

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Sunday, Sep. 4, 2011, at 12:09 a.m.
  • Updated Sunday, Sep. 4, 2011, at 7:36 a.m.

"The Interrupters" is the kind of powerful filmmaking that not only documents change, it provokes it.

The film follows the lives and actions of a group of people in Chicago who call themselves "Violence Interrupters." Over the course of a year, they try to put an end to the street violence that is claiming the lives of their children.

It's no easy feat, especially in the volatile, ferocious gang-ridden neighborhoods of urban Chicago. But what's interesting is that these adults once inflicted the very violence they're trying to stop.

Many of them grew up as gang members, and many served time in prison. They now work with kids to help them see a brighter future.

Many others grew up the victims of horrible crimes, and try to instill in their young people that there is hope amid their despair.

Filmmaker Steve James, who won raves for his 1994 Oscar-nominated documentary "Hoop Dreams," crafts an unflinching portrait of the problems these people face. There is no easy solution.

And while they may have good intentions, these people aren't perfect, and are given to frustrations and rage just like everyone else.

"The Interrupters" screened at many festivals, including Sundance and SXSW. It will play in Wichita at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday at Murdock Theatre, 536 N. Broadway. Tickets are $8. For more information, go to www.murdocktheatre.com.

Tallgrass rocks — The Tallgrass Film Association will present a special encore of " The Wrecking Crew," the rollicking documentary that won the festival's audience award in 2008.

The film explores the lives and music of a group of session musicians that provided back-up instrumentals to such legendary recording artists as Frank Sinatra, the Beach Boys, Bing Crosby and many others.

Director Danny Tedesco will conduct a Q&A session after the screening, which will start at 7 p.m. Thursday at Abode Venue, 1330 E. Douglas. Tickets are $12.

Preceding that will be a special fundraising event, " The Wrecking Crew & Brew: A Craft & Vinyl Pairing," from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Jaded Pearl, 1716 E. Douglas.

It will feature beer from Tallgrass Brewing Co. that is specifically paired with music by the band, which will be spun on vinyl records by Living Sound. Appetizers will be served and prizes will be given away, including passes for the upcoming film festival.

Tickets for the event are $25 and can be purchased at www.tallgrassfilmfest.com or at the door.

Creative calling — CreativeRush is a new organization of creative types to talk about and promote artistic processes.

As it says on its website (creativerush.org), the group "aims to create a platform for people to learn across all creative mediums and channel this knowledge and inspiration into improving their own work and discovering new creative possibilities."

This month's CreativeRush meeting is titled "Getting Your Work Seen," and I will be a featured panelist along with artist/designer Ian Stewart and marketing specialist Sarah Robinson.

The event starts at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Naked City Gallery, 121 N. Mead. It's free, but you must RSVP at creativerush.org. Space is limited.

Rod Pocowatchit can be reached at rpocowatchit@wichitaeagle.com. Read his Movie Maniac column online at kansas.com/entertainment.

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