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Steve James goes back to Chicago

By CHRIS FARAONE  |  September 16, 2011

THERE ARE NO INTERVIEWS WITH LEADING POLS OR PEOPLE WHO ARE KNOWN OUTSIDE OF CHICAGO. WHY DID YOU STICK WITH THOSE WHO ARE CLOSEST TO THE SITUATION? We really wanted for the viewer to think about these things in an organic way, rather than having to bring in experts and politicos. I've never done films to date that used experts. It's just a particular bent of my approach to filmmaking that the experts are the people who are living in the situation.

AS SOMEONE WHO IS ON THE SCENE BUT I ASSUME NOT HOLDING A CAMERA, HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT STAYING OUTSIDE OF THE REALM OF WHAT'S GOING ON? I actually was holding the camera. I don't normally shoot my films, but Alex knew that I like to work small, and he suggested that I just shoot it. It wound up being the right decision because the nature of the film was that we had to be willing to go at a moment's notice. 

>> READ: "Review: The Interrupters" by Chris Faraone <<

THIS FILM HAS NO REAL ENDING. HOW DID YOU DECIDE HOW AND WHEN TO END IT? At a certain point we realized that — structurally — our best bet was going to be to present this as a year in the life of the city. It's a bunch of little stories, and editorially that was a lot of fun to play with. But I think we also looked for junctures to leave the story in an open-ended way, which I frankly think more documentaries should do. Peoples' lives go on.

WITH ALL THE SERIOUS WORK THAT YOU DO, DO YOU EVER FEEL THE NEED FOR A BREAK? I would love to find a funny documentary to do. Sometimes I ask myself why I do all of these serious movies. You might not believe me, but it's not like I'm the type of guy who walks around with a frown on his face all the time.

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