Movies About School Shootings
A Statement on Gun Control
Once again, we’ve watched another American gun tragedy unfold – this time, the massacre of 17 students and educators at a high school in Parkland, Florida.
We’ve felt a predictable mix of emotions: above all, horror, disgust, and sympathy for the bereaved families. The United States is hopelessly awash in gun culture. Its legislators are in the pocket of the National Rifle Association. They are a society paralyzed from curbing gun violence.
This time we’re hopeful for change. Students and youth like Emma Gonzalez are taking a stand and holding the President and Congress accountable and responsible.
Awareness and public education is an important step towards change – and we want to contribute to this awareness in whatever way we can.. On this channel, we often talk about the impact of film. Film is truly not limited to entertainment, but also a powerful medium of education..
The films we will be talking about today highlight and spark important discussions on gun violence and school shootings.
Bowling for Columbine
In his best-received documentary, director Michael Moore takes on gun violence in America. While some of Moore’s critics question his tactics and self-promotion, at the very least his in-your-face approach creates an entertaining and somewhat educational piece on guns in America. In the span of just two hours, the filmmaker manages to present the problem of gun violence, introduces us to possible causes and confronts the NRA head-on in an interview with the late Charlton Heston. Moore also points out that gun violence in the U.S. is 65 times greater than neighboring Canada but sadly fails to expose the primary reason, unrestricted access to handguns without background checks or oversight by law enforcement compared to Canada where rifles are prevalent but it’s virtually impossible to purchase handguns.
“ The Dirties” is a 2013 Canadian found footage drama film directed by Matt Johnson. This was Johnson’s debut feature. The film has received praise from critics as well as numerous awards, including the Grand Jury Prize for Best Narrative at the 2013 Slamdance Film Festival. Kevin Smith, who helped distribute the film, dubbed The Dirties “the most important movie you will see all year.
The Dirties is an acute study of the effects of everyday harassment. Johnson, retaining his first name, plays Matt, a cinema obsessive making his own film; a revenge fantasy through which he mythologises himself to compensate for his lack of social status. Johnson was determined to have The Dirties be authentic, and managed to shoot much of it in an active school. Staff were supportive of a project that aimed to give a realistic portrayal of bullying, and allowed Johnson and his crew to embed themselves in the school for a week. Students weren’t told about the film; they assumed Johnson and his team were new students.
Shot undercover in Toronto, this story of a high-school shooting asks uncomfortable questions about identity and alienation in the digital age
The Armor of Light
Abigail Disney’s directorial debut, The Armor of Light, follows the journey of an Evangelical minister trying to find the courage to preach about the growing toll of gun violence in America. The film tracks Reverend Rob Schenck, anti-abortion activist and fixture on the political far right, who starts questioning whether being pro-gun is consistent with being pro-life. Reverend Schenck is shocked and perplexed by the reactions of his long-time friends and colleagues who warn him away from this complex, politically explosive issue.
Along the way, Rev. Schenck meets Lucy McBath, the mother of Jordan Davis, an unarmed teenager who was murdered in Florida and whose story has cast a spotlight on “Stand Your Ground” laws. McBath, also a Christian, decides to work with Schenck even though she is pro-choice. Lucy is on a difficult journey of her own, trying to make sense of her devastating loss while using her grief to effect some kind of viable and effective political action-where so many before her have failed.
Armor follows these unlikely allies through their trials of conscience, heartbreak and rejection, as they bravely attempt to make others consider America’s gun culture through a moral lens. The film is also a courageous look at America’s fractured political culture and an assertion that it is, indeed, possible for people to come together across deep party lines to find common ground.
Gus Van Sant’s “Elephant” is a record of a day at a high school like Columbine, on the day of a massacre much like the one that left 13 dead. It offers no explanation for the tragedy, no insights into the psyches of the killers, no theories about teenagers or society or guns or psychopathic behavior. It simply looks at the day as it unfolds, and that is a brave and radical act; it refuses to supply reasons and assign cures, so that we can close the case and move on.
Van Sant seems to believe there are no reasons for Columbine and no remedies to prevent senseless violence from happening again. Many viewers will leave this film as unsatisfied and angry as Variety’s Todd McCarthy, who wrote after it won the Golden Palm at Cannes 2003 that it was “pointless at best and irresponsible at worst.” Nevertheless, Elephant remains a controversial film about a sensitive and important subject matter that continues to challenge American society.
We Need to Talk About Kevin
“We Need to Talk About Kevin” features a ripped-from-the-headlines plot about a school shooter, but it is much more a story about the dark side of motherhood.
Eva Khatchadourian (Tilda Swinton) is a travel writer/publisher who gives up her beloved freedom and bohemian lifestyle to have a child with her husband, Franklin (John C. Reilly). Pregnancy does not seem to agree with Eva, but what’s worse, when she does give birth to a baby boy named Kevin, she can’t seem to bond with him. When Kevin grows from a fussy, demanding toddler (Rocky Duer) into a sociopathic teen (Ezra Miller), Eva is forced to deal with the aftermath of her son’s horrific act.
Inspired by the tragic school shooting that took place at Montreal’s Polytechnique school on December 6, 1989, director Denis Villeneuve’s melancholy docudrama portrays the events as seen from the perspective of two students, Valérie (Karine Vanasse) and Jean-François (Sebastien Huberdeau). When an armed madman enters the school with the intention of killing as many females as possible, the lives of every student involved are forever changed.
Andre (Andre Keuck) and Cal (Cal Robertson) are a pair of military-loving misfits from small-town America. They harbor a hatred of their high school so caustic that they come up with a plan of attack called “Zero Day.” As the days count down, they record their preparations in video diaries, hoping to achieve fame after their demise. When Zero Day arrives, Andre and Cal drive to school with a trunk of munitions and take aim. The film is based on the Columbine High School massacre.
Blackbird is a film about a troubled teen who is falsely accused of planning a Columbine shooting scenario. It all begins when an unlikely bond forms between Sean Randall (Connor Jessup) and a preppy teenage girl named Deanna Roy (Alexia Fast). Deanna’s boyfriend is deeply threatened by Sean and Deanna’s friendship, resulting in a violent confrontation. Seeking to protect himself, Sean issues a death threat online, and is swiftly arrested. When the police raid Sean’s home, they find rifles, shotguns, knives and ammunition – all property of Sean’s father Ricky (Michael Buie), an avid hunter. They also find a sup- posed “revenge plan” targeting over twenty people who have tormented Sean. The authorities and the media proclaim another Columbine situation has been narrowly averted, and soon Sean faces a terrifying imprisonment in a youth detention facility. Sean’s only hope is to overcome his dark image, and prove his innocence to Deanna and to his community.
We hope you not only watch these movies but also share them with your friends and family. Awareness sparks change and we seriously hope that over the course of the next few months we will see some progress in the right direction.
Let us know what you thought in the comments below.