Newtown: Documentary Now on Netflix

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Newtown is now available to stream on Netflix. This documentary explores the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary Massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. The film is raw and emotional; the interviews with family members of the victims take the viewer inside the heart-wrenching grief that plagues them. We all remember tuning into news stations and hearing of the tragedy that day, watching President Obama shed tears as he addressed the nation, and the bitter fight for gun control that ensued in the weeks and months that followed. Although these memories are etched into our minds and hearts, this documentary takes us closer to the personal struggles of the victims’ families and their advocacy that has followed.

The documentary opens with footage of what looks like an idyllic small town suburban parade. Children in cheerleading uniforms with “Newtown” written across the chest twirl batons, clap, and dance. The crowds are enthused and everyone is smiling. This scene abruptly changes and the screen is flooded with the dash cam footage of first responders and audio of 911 calls from the elementary school on December, 12 2011.

Once the incidents of that day are detailed, the film shifts focus towards the parents of some of the victims as they recall memories of their departed children and begin to explain their varying processes of grief. The documentary was filmed over a three year period, and mainly follows parents Mark Barden, David Wheeler, and Nicole Hockley, though others are included.

Though Newtown is a character driven film, the parents’ advocacy for gun control quickly becomes the crux of the documentary. A defining moment of this advocacy comes when David Wheeler proclaims at the public hearing for the Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety Task Force that “the liberty of any person to own a military style assault weapon in a high capacity magazine and keep them in their home is second to the right of my son to his life.” His statement receives a standing ovation.

Newtown was directed by Kim A. Snyder. Snyder is a New York based filmmaker who often works on not-for-profit projects in the film world. She is an advocate for the use of film as a medium to promote social change and she is a co-founder of the BeCause Foundation, which aims to better the lives of children.

When asked in an interview with Filmmaker Magazine about the ultimate goal of the documentary, Snyder states, “I wanted to create an emotional experience that might break through the desensitization of these incidents and the slow bleed of daily gun violence I felt we were invariably experiencing as a country. I wanted to create an honest work of intimacy in an artful way that might shift consciousness. My measurement of success will be if viewers use their experience of viewing this film to affect sorely needed policy change that the majority of the country currently supports.”

Whatever side of the issue you lean towards, we hope that you give this emotional documentary a view and some attention. If anything, Newtown is a film that will start many conversations about gun violence and gun control.

Newtown was nominated for the Sundance Grand July Prize in Documentary and for Best Documentary at the Cleveland International Film Festival. The film also won the ACTNow Award at The Crested Butte Film Festival.

Lauren lives in OB with her French bulldog, Elvis Presley. She loves laughter and the great outdoors. You can contact her at [email protected].

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