2019 Hot Docs presents After Parkland

After Parkland (2019), directed by Jake Lefferman and Emily Taguchi, is a character driven documentary chronicling the impact, the trauma and the personal loss the Parkland shooting has had on students and families.  On February 14, 2018 a teen gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida killing seventeen students and staff members, and injuring 17 in six minutes and twenty seconds.  The film documents the narrative of the lives of two of the parents who lost their children in the shooting and several of the students who survived it juxtaposed against their backstory, the mourning process, and activism and situating the incident within a larger context of gun violence incidents across the nation.

Lefferman and Taguchi have woven together many visual elements to create a compelling and powerful documentary where the senseless slaughter of innocents meets heartbreak, pain and grief, and social activism.  It is a well-crafted film which focuses on the personal narrative of the students and families devastated by the aftermath and not on the perpetrator or why guns are a divisive issue in America.  The filmmakers weave first person interviews of the families and students juxtaposed against archival footage of the shooting incident, the aftermath, and the social activism that springs to action.  The narrative of the film is structured between alternating scenes of the two fathers, Andrew Pollack, who lost his daughter Meadow Pollack, and Manual Oliver, who lost his son, Joaquim Oliver, and several of the students who survived the traumatic incident including Sam Zeif, David Hogg, Dillon McCooty, and Victoria Gonzales.   The two fathers have a vastly different personal approach to dealing with the shooting incident as do the students which gives the film a depth and  complexity as we all grieve and mourn differently.  There are many powerful and emotionally moving scenes in the film, and one of the most powerful scenes in the documentary is the speech given by Emma Gonzalez at the March of Our Lives protest on March 24, 2018.

After Parkland is a powerful film that documents the narrative of the families and students following the aftermath of the Parkland shooting whose collective experiences shine a light on the mourning process and how they have come to terms with that fateful day, and turned their grief into positive action.    The documentary has tremendous educational value and can serve as a vehicle to promote social change and understanding, and is deserving of your attention.

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