Illuminating and Interrupting Violence


Films don’t just have to be entertainment anymore. Sometimes they ask you to react and it’s up to you whether you listen.

On Tuesday, Feb. 5, the SUNY New Paltz React to Film College Action Network screened “The Interrupters” in the Coykendall Science Building Auditorium. The film explored violence in our country, specifically Chicago, and has received numerous national accolades, including being chosen as a Sundance Film Festival Official Selection and winning Best Documentary at the Miami Film Festival.

“The spotlight was on a group of people called the Violence Interrupters, who are working at the roots of violence,” club President and third-year digital media production major Alexandra Klouse said.

The Violence Interrupters used a wide variety of approaches to give support to families and friends of street violence victims, by speaking at schools, community centers and even funerals, Klouse said. Klouse added that the group also spends personal time with and checks in on people who may be likely to either commit or fall victim to violence.

The React to Film organization chooses films based on their relevance to current events, the quality of the film, the filmmakers’ willingness to hold a Q&A or informational session and how well it calls people to take action, because their goal is to spark social change, according to Klouse.

“My main aspiration is for the audience to be educated on something they may not be aware of and inspire them to want to create change,” Klouse said.

After the film screenings, the club will often hold livestreamed question-and -answer discussions with the filmmaker or host a panel of local experts with professional experience with the specific issue being explored.

Lindsay Nimphius, a fourth-year media management and media production major, said the first screening of a semester usually doesn’t have much interaction with the other schools, due to timing of the scheduled event, but “everyone who attended [the screening] was engaged and spoke of feeling inspired to do more.”

As Nimphius expected for the first screening of the semester, the number of people who attended did not meet the club’s expectations.  According to Klouse, they have had a difficult time choosing a day that worked for everyone, considering the amount of other clubs on campus.

“What I hoped people took from the film was that even though this may not be a prevalent issue in our immediate community, it is still affecting the world we live in and the country that we are a part of,” Klouse said.