Newtown (The Melbourne International Film Festival)
The people of Newtown, Connecticut
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…a succinct but shattering film…
Gun crime, particularly in America, constantly dominates the media. It’s gotten to the point where it can feel like literally every day there’s another report. The documentary, Newtown, seems quite timely now. Not that it’s overtly political, though it certainly doesn’t sit in the pro-firearms corner. No, Newtown shines a spotlight on the residents of the titular town in Connecticut. A town which holds the not-too-auspicious honour of being the site of the largest shooting at a high school or grade school in the US, when Adam Lanza shot 20 children and six staff members at The Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Director, Kim S. Snyder, offers no narration herself; instead, she leaves it to the townspeople, through talking heads, photos, videos, and even text messages, to recount the events of the tragic day, and the steps that they’ve all taken to try and move on. Newtown is a succinct but shattering film that never feels like it’s bathing in the tragedy; it’s not made for the prolific rubberneckers. Snyder gives her subjects the dignity that they deserve.
In particular, we meet three parents who lost their children that day. Snyder paints a sombre and distressing portrait of mourning as the three adults share their grief. What becomes apparent as they try to move on, is the fear of time passing. The film captures a potent moment as one father confesses that he doesn’t like growing old as each new day takes him one day further from the life that he had with his son. The aforementioned Lanza is never mentioned by name, and with good reason. Four years on, his shadow hangs long and heavy over the town, and this story is about the children, their parents, and their neighbours. The people that matter.
Newtown plays at The Melbourne International Film Festival on August 1. To buy tickets to Newtown, head to the official website.