• Steve James

Chicago got smacked in the face last week when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released its shortlist of nominees for Best Documentary Feature, passing over Steve James’s universally acclaimed The Interrupters. James (Hoop Dreams, Stevie, At the Death House Door) spent a year on the city’s meanest streets to chronicle the work of three CeaseFire counselors as they intervened in conflicts that might easily have exploded into violence. The Reader has been all over The Interrupters: Deanna Isaacs wrote about the production shortly before it made its local premiere at Columbia College in July, and Andrea Gronvall contributed a long review of the movie when it opened at the Gene Siskel Film Center in August. I’m bringing up the rear: I was on vacation when the movie opened, and its return engagement at Film Center was such a hot ticket that I got turned away twice at the box office. Having finally watched and rewatched the movie this weekend, I have to wonder what the Academy is thinking: you couldn’t ask for a more thoughtful or moving examination of a more profound American problem.