Ameena Matthews, Activist and star of 'The Interrupters'

Chicago to the bone yet universal in its implications, "The Interrupters" concerns the antiviolence conflict-mediation initiative known as CeaseFire Illinois. The film focuses on so-called violence interrupters working the streets and in many cases coaxing someone with a weapon, a grudge and a short fuse back from the brink of retaliatory bloodshed. The movie's packed with memorable personalities, none more so than Ameena Matthews, now a five-year veteran of CeaseFire. She's our Chicagoan of the Year in Film, and when the documentary by Steve James and Alex Kotlowitz started traveling around the international festival circuit earlier this year, the cries went up: This woman¿s fantastic. Writing in The Observer, British journalist Andrew Anthony said: "She's so hot on film that she practically burns through the celluloid. Fearless and filled with righteous conviction, she confronts hoodlums and comforts the bereaved with such an extraordinary mixture of sense and sensitivity that you wonder why she isn't involved in a larger scale undertaking, like running the UN or the world." Matthews declines to give her age. She has two kids at home, two out of the house and two more stepchildren, and is married to Abdur Rasheed Matthews, the Iman at the Al Haqqani Mosque William DeShazer, Chicago Tribune
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