It's been nearly four years since the Newtown Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting: 26 dead, 20 at age 6, and the memory is still green. Documentarians Kim A. Snyder and Maria Cuomo Cole went to Newtown, Ct. shortly after the event, and spoke to family, friends, and survivors to get a picture of how a community grieves. Their film Newtown barely mentions the shooter, a young man of no particular politics who was armed with an assault rifle that he took from his mother's house after killing her. Newtown focuses on the community, detailing the aftermath for three families; we take in this tragedy's particularity: Newtown stands out from other horrendous shootings that followed. This could be our town, our school, children we know and love. As one bereaved father asks, what did we do wrong that morning sending our children off? Nothing. The children were where they should be, safe at school.
At a luncheon at Le Cirque with John Slattery, Christine Ebersole, Delia Ephron, Mary Stuart Masterson, Donna Dees, who sparked the Million Mom March for tighter gun control in 2000, and many others in attendance, Roseanne Scotto led a Q&A with the filmmakers, and one brave father, Mark Barden, a prominent voice from the film who still sees his son Daniel's place at the breakfast table. Yes, the parents are vocal, trying to get the simple legislation for background checks for guns. 90% of Americans want that, and still on the national level the proposed action is overturned, although Connecticut has paid attention. While making the film, Maria Cuomo Cole dealt with her father, Mario Cuomo, who was not well. He urged her to work on this project: "It's important."
Rather than focus on the politics, Newtown shows the ripples such a cataclysmic event can produce over time. "It doesn't get easier," says Mark Barden. He tells the filmmakers about a recurring dream, that the event happened and Daniel didn't die. Eschewing all fears, he skydives. In some serendipitous way, "the world's best skydiving photographer shot the sequence," said Snyder, and they added Mark's dream in a voiceover. "We wanted to honor the fact that there is no closure."
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.