This is probably the most sobering documentary we have watched for a very long time. The details of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida that left 17 dead and another 17 injured two years ago were covered in depth by the media at the time, but that still doesn’t lessen the impact of watching the story behind the headlines unfold on screen,
Filmmakers Jake Lefferman, and Emily Taguchi. who both work for ABC News cover the story as dispassionate as possible but nevertheless it is impossible to watch it without getting not only very emotional but extremely angry as well.
After using newsroom footage of the actual event the filmmakers focus on a couple of the students who survived and two fathers who both lost children that day.
Sam Zief and his three brothers who attend the school were amongst the fortunate survivors, and the next day he found himself in the White House taking part in a disgraceful and farcical PR event. When the microphone was passed to him, Zeff emotionally demands to know why these weapons are still available even after the Columbine and Sandy Hook shootings. He adds when there was a mass shooting in Australia the Government acted immediately and banned them.
As Zeff holds back his tears Trump can be seen barely listening and obviously totally bored. He will later not even mention the guns and like all the GOP try to re-focus all the attention on the shooter. He will also promise to tighten background checks but that, as usual proves to be a blatant lie, as he does absolutely nothing .
Manuel Oliver is the father of Joaquin one of the most popular students who was killed. Oliver coaches the school’s basketball team, a role he kept on, as a means to support the students and as a way to deal with his own grief. He ends up creating a non-profit action group with his wife to combat gun violence with the slogan “Change The Ref”. He is a compassionate and articulate man and is a source of strength to the students, yet when it comes to collect his late son’s Graduation Certificate is impossible not to share his and his wife’s pain.
Andrew Pollack, whose only daughter who was murdered in shooting. used his anger to focus on the lack of school security. He too was at the farcical White House meeting and bellowed that if the President didn’t make schools safer then he would. Pollack had no time with trying to take on the gun lobby in any way, as he convinced that it is not the problem.
Interestingly although this was the opposite view of parents like Oliver, the filmmakers chose not to make any issue of it or question either of them.
The other student that was featured in depth was David Hogg His sister had lost four friends in the shooting and as he articulately expressed his feelings, the media honed into him as an unofficial spokesmen. When he finished his time at Parkland he took a gap year of and founded the Never Again campaign against gun violence. This is itself had another extremely nasty effect as Hogg became the subject of some vicious hate mail by people who also wanted to change the focus . So many of these people were quick to defend gun rights even if that meant trampling all over anyone that dared to try ti get them banned. Especially one as young as Hogg.
By the time the 90 mins are up we have been made well aware of the sheer futility of it all. These children and teachers were brutally murdered, and after some in the world mourned, and the families affected came to terms with their grief as well as they could, nothing else changed
We are reminded that this all happened February 2018, and by the end of that year there would have been 340 Mass Shootings in the US in which 373 people died and 1346 were injured.
As tough as it is , this movie really needs to be seen by the widest audience possible, and maybe then more people will vote out of power those politicians who seem OK to keep getting blood on their hands.
N.B. The screening will launch the Wednesday, February 12, 2020 event when “After Parkland” will screen in over 100 cities across the U.S. as part of a nationwide Day of Conversation to commemorate the second anniversary of the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School