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Thread: AFTER PARKLAND (Emily Taguchi, Jake Lefferman 2019)

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    Jul 2002
    SF Bay Area

    AFTER PARKLAND (Emily Taguchi, Jake Lefferman 2019)



    Grief turned into activism after Parrkland

    Nationwide Day of Conversation screenings took place on February 12, 2020, to commemorate the second anniversary of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida where 17 were killed and 17 wounded in a 7-minute period on February 14, 2018.

    Parkland was the worst US school mass shooting yet. Its importance is greater because of the level of awareness that today's hyper-connected world permits, and the degree of activism that developed there.

    The filmmakers went to the scene and "imbedded" with some of those most involved. You may see this film as covering how these people dealt with their grief in the months that followed, through their own kinds of activism. The story may also be seen as revolving to a surprising extent around one slain 17-year-old boy, Joaquin Oliver, who was particularly charismatic, one of those young people who seem to "glow," to give off light and spread joy and involvement wherever they go. Joaquin's mother Victoria and Venezuelan immigrant father Manuel became activists, traveling the country, Manuel, an artist, painting stencil murals about Parkland and guns.

    One is like a performance piece. There are 17 stencil high school graduation mortar boards, and also a portrait of his son that he smashes into with a hammer as people watch. Then he sprays on red "blood." Earlier, he has learned that in Chicago there is a law against selling spray paint. No problem enacting that, but what about laws like those enacted in Australia that wiped out events like this? Nothing doing.

    Joaquin's girlfriend, Victoria, and his best friend, Dillon McCooly, seem to dedicate their lives to his memory. The basketball championship is won for him and dedicated to him. Dillon takes Victoria to the prom - for Joaquin. Everything they do they remember express what it would be like for him to have been there. In honoring the slain, the survivors process their grief.

    We get treated to a surfeit of slogans, but this is a part of the game. Key players are the father of Meadow Pollack, Andrew POllack. A plainspoken man, he says his daughter was everything to him and his life is miserable without her. But he enters politics, not to enact gun laws, which he thinks impossible (or does he oppose them?), but to increase "school safety." He seems to want to militarize schools and arm teachers, as the solution.

    Manuel Oliver became a coach of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas basketball team at the urging of Joaquin - and implausibly, since he knew nothing about basketball, the team went to the finals and won the championship. One team member we hear a lot of from the start is Sam Zeif. He is on the team, but he is also eloquent early in the film in expressing how the killings changed his and everyone's life in an instant, made him no longer young.

    Most impressive though and most nationally known is David Hogg, who becomes the public spokesman of the spirit of resistance and activism that came out of the school. As the students return to the school two weeks later, he seems to address, eloquently, every newsperson he meets on the pathway to the entrance. Later he says that returning to the school is like being in plane crash and then being forced to get back on the same plane every day without the problem being corrected.

    That image highlights better than anything else who just plain wrong the situation is in American schools. And whatever Andrew Pollack may think, gun laws are the main solution, which is not coming. A convocation to talk to President Trump after the Parkland killing only underlines this. You can talk all you want, it says. . .

    There is a big youth-organized demonstration in Washington, "MARCH ON OUR LIVES," two-million strong, one of the nation's biggest, was a possible tipping point for anti-gun action. But of course the gun lobby's power fights back against every new restriction on gun ownership. The film shows only one speech by MSD student Emma González, a girl with torn jeans and a punk look, whose rhetoric is stunning. She lists the 17 dead who'll never again. . . (things they characteristically did), then falls silent for five minutes, before that vast audience, and explains this is the time when the killer did his killing, and then in the minutes following slipped out of the school.


    David Hogg says "The best way to stop school killings is 75.4 million millennials with a vote." When he and his classmates graduate, parents or friends taking the diplomas for the slain seniors, David Hogg delcares he is not joining his friends on the way to college but taking a gap year "so I can promote sensible legislation. . . not just around gun control but around youth better turnout." He should be the subject of the next documentary about Parkland's aftermath. David Hogg is part of a powerful new wave of youth activists, like Greta Thunberg.

    After Parkland. 92 mins., released April 25, 2019 Tribeca, included in four other festivals. Review written for revival for second anniversary of the Parkland killings Feb. 12, 2020. Metascore 72%k.

    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 02-16-2020 at 11:34 AM.


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