At the heart of Gandhi’s revolution was a new kind of hero: brave, but also compassionate; bold, but also empathetic; powerful, but also unarmed. For millennia, traditional heroism had been fueled by the implacable absolutism of the Us vs. Them script (“we are good, they are evil”) enforced by justified violence. Gandhi’s new heroism-subverting hero—whom he called a satyagrahi, a practitioner of Soulforce—bet her life on challenging and dissolving this ceaselessly reinvented and endlessly lethal dividing line.
“The Interrupters,” a new documentary from director Steve James and producer Alex Kotlowitz, vividly dramatizes this gamble in the midst of a culture of extreme youth violence on Chicago’s South and West Sides. The film is an up-to-the-minute account of the haunting terror of seemingly inescapable gang conflict that is continually threatening to spin out of control—and that often does.