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CeaseFire documentary premieres at Sundance

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“The Interrupters,”
"The Interrupters" follows three workers for CeaseFire as they try to stop violence before it breaks out in Chicago neighborhoods.

“The Interrupters,” a documentary on the CeaseFire violence prevention program in the School of Public Health, will have its world premiere next month at the Sundance Film Festival.

The documentary by director Steve James ("Hoop Dreams") and bestselling author Alex Kotlowitz (There Are No Children Here) tells the story of two men and a woman who work as violence interrupters for CeaseFire. Their mission: to interrupt the next shooting.

The film, shot in the School of Public Health and Chicago neighborhoods over the course of a year, follows the violence interrupters as they attempt to intervene in disputes before they turn violent, including a family where two brothers threaten to shoot each other, an angry teenage girl just home from prison and a young man on a war path of revenge.

The CeaseFire model of interrupting the violence before it spreads is the brainchild of epidemiologist Gary Slutkin, who for 10 years battled the spread of cholera and AIDS in Africa.

Slutkin, professor of epidemiologist and executive director of the Chicago Project for Violence Prevention, takes the approach that the spread of violence mimics that of infectious diseases. The treatment should similarly target the most infected and stop the infection at its source, he has said.

“The Interrupters” will be part of the Documentary Premieres category, which Sundance created this year for “master filmmakers debuting their new docs about big subjects.” The documentary is one of 18 films selected from among 750 applicants for a grant for production funds from the Sundance Documentary Film Program.

The film is presented by Kartemquin Films for WGBH/Frontline and the Independent Television Service in association with RISE Films. It will be broadcast as part of the PBS "Frontline" series in late 2011 and shown across the country as part of a civic engagement campaign.

The 2011 Sundance Film Festival runs from Jan. 20 to 30, centered in Park City, Utah.

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