Born In Chicago Documentary Review Essay

Born in Chicago in Rolling Stone

Rolling Stone Announces PledgeMusic Campaign For Born In Chicago

Born In Chicago's commercial release is one step closer with Rolling Stone's July 2015 announcement of the launch of
a PledgeMusic campaign.

Born in Chicago
Sold-out Screening at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles

On May 11, The Clive Davis Theater at The Grammy Museum played host to the Los Angeles premiere of BORN IN CHICAGO.

The evening also included a Q and A moderated by Bob Merlis and featuring Director John Anderson and stars Barry Goldberg, Corky Siegel, Sam Lay and Elvin Bishop.  A blues-rocking set by Goldberg, Siegel, Lay, Bishop, Marcy Levy, Rick Reed, Zach Wagner, Jimmy Vivino and Gary Mallaber closed the night.

SXSW Film Festival Premieres Born in Chicago

The Chicago blues documentary had three successful screenings at the 2013 SXSW Film Festival, where it was included in The Hollywood Reporter’s list of "10 Must-See Music Films."

The Austin Chronicle had this to say about the film.

(L-R: Barry Goldberg, Timm Martin, John Anderson,
Corky Siegel, Harvey Mandel)

Full House for Born in Chicago at NYC's Lincoln Center

As part of Film Society Lincoln Center’s ‘Sound + Vision’ series, Born In Chicago screened to a capacity crowd at Lincoln Center in New York in July of 2013.

The screening was followed by an animated Q and A featuring Marshall Chess, Barry Goldberg, Corky Siegel and John Anderson, moderated by Bob Merlis. Jim Bessman of The reviewed the discussion.

(L-R: Marshall Chess, Barry Goldberg, Bob Merlis, John Anderson, Corky Siegel).

Born in Chicago Hometown Premiere and Kick-Off Concert

Hometown Premiere

The film had its hometown premiere at Chicago’s Gene Siskel Center, where it played to packed houses June 7 through 13, 2013.

Kick-off Concert

On the eve of the Siskel residency, the stars of the film gathered for a sold-out concert at The Vic Theatre, where Chicago Blues Reunion (Nick Gravenites, Barry Goldberg, Harvey Mandel and Corky Siegel) was joined onstage by Sam Lay, Elvin Bishop, Charlie Musselwhite and Eric Burdon for an unforgettable night of Chicago blues.

Read Linda Cain's concert review in the Chicago Blues Guide.

Born in Chicago on WBEZ

Barry Goldberg and John Anderson discussed the film and the concert as guests on WBEZ Chicago’s ‘The Morning Shift’ with Tony Sarabia and Richard Steele.

Goldberg and Anderson on WBEZ Chicago

Here are a few more reviews:

Follow Born in Chicago


FACEBOOK:Born in Chicago facebook page.

TRAILER: Watch the trailer on Vimeo.

IMDB Listing: Find out more about the film at its IMDB page.

For more information on 'Born In Chicago', contact:

Bob Merlis/M.F.H.
606 N. Larchmont Bl. #205
Los Angeles, CA 90004

The Interrupters (The Cinema Guild), a documentary about an initiative to stop urban violence in Chicago, may be the most necessary film you'll see this year. But if you go to the movies in search of emotion rather than edification, don't let that word necessary deter you, because this is also one of the most engaging films you'll see this year, full of vibrant, complex real-life characters whose troubles and joys will stay with you long after the movie's done. The "violence interrupters" are a group of ex-convicts and former gang members who've joined CeaseFire, an organization with a unique approach to quelling youth violence. Rather than lecturing in schools or running drop-in centers, they get out on the street, find kids in situations of potential danger (on the South Side of Chicago, they're in no short supply), and do what it takes to resolve conflict on the spot, whether that involves wresting a chunk of concrete out of the hands of an angry teenager or taking a disaffected 19-year-old dropout to get her first-ever manicure.

Filmed over the course of a year—we watch the seasons progress in four separate chapters—The Interrupters does a magnificent job of establishing what's at stake for the workers at CeaseFire: Consumed with regret over the sins of their youth (which, in the case of at least one, included murder), they will stop at nothing to keep kids in their community from making the same mistakes.

As in his classic 1994 documentary Hoop Dreams, director Steve James (collaborating with Chicago journalist Alex Kotlowitz), establishes an immediate and powerful sense of intimacy with his subjects. The interrupters aren't holier-than-thou do-gooders, just struggling, suffering, astonishingly brave people. Ameena Matthews, the daughter of a legendary Chicago gang leader who's now in jail for life, spent her youth living the high life as a drug-running party girl; she's now a married mother, a convert to Islam, and one of CeaseFire's star interrupters. In the course of her work with neighborhood kids, she develops an intense relationship with the aptly named Caprysha, a troubled girl who swings rapidly from puppylike devotion to sullen withdrawal.

Cobe Williams, a former gangbanger who's now a suburban family man (his wife describes him dryly as "a very, very nerdy person"), is shown intervening in several different cases, most notably that of Flamo, a volatile loner whose resistance to being helped at times places Cobe in physical danger. And Eddie Bocanegra, a Latino ex-con with a monklike devotion to his work, teaches a painting class to young children who live in fear of random violence, then counsels a depressed girl who watched her older brother die in her arms.

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Dana Stevens

Dana Stevens is Slate’s movie critic.

Some scenes are difficult to watch; I wasn't the only one on my row occasionally shielding my eyes as if from a horror film. A group of women runs down a city block seeking revenge for some slight done to their brother, one of them wielding a kitchen knife, as children age 4 or 5 tag along after. At a teenager's funeral, his friends pose for pictures next to the open casket, taking turns playing the role of the corpse. On a wall mural with the names of local kids who've lost their lives to violence, a graffiti scrawl reads "I am next."

Just when you're about to despair, though, The Interrupters offers glimpses of the hope that must be what keeps the interrupters plugging away at their exhausting work. Li'l Mikey, a young man who held up a barbershop two years ago, agrees to return to the shop with Cobe to apologize to everyone who was there that day. His reconciliation with a woman whose children are still traumatized by the memory is harrowing and uplifting at once. The movie's epilogue, in which we follow up with each case after the year is over, contains a few joyful surprises—not happy endings, perhaps, but at least the prevention of endings that could have been so much worse.

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