..Lese Dunton..
Review: Newtown

Usually I shy away from movies that have anything to do with guns and tragic consequences. I lean towards the inspirational genre, perhaps through comedy or romance, even a touch of sadness, but not death by gunfire.

So when executive producer Nick Stuart, an incredibly talented and caring person, invited me to see the documentary Newtown, I took a deep breath and thought I'd give it a try. I also wanted to show my faith in the townspeople and all the dedicated souls involved.

This beautiful film brings you into the lives of gentle good people in a small town, forever changed by the horror of that day. You get to know the mothers, fathers, siblings, neighbors, teachers, an EMT, the ER doctor, and others. They honestly reveal what happened, how they handled the nightmare, the grieving process, and what they're doing about it now.

Most touchingly, through family videos, you fall in love with the innocent children who left our world too soon. Of course they had no idea that a mentally ill man with a gun would end their young lives at school.

When the credits came up, I felt good about humanity. The film portrays the great strength and love and determination within everyone in Newtown. In the years that followed, they've worked to change laws and, equally important (just in case politicians drop the ball, again), they've inspired a grassroots action-taking, change-making movement among American communities.

After the screening, the brilliant director Kim A. Snyder and producer Maria Cuomo Cole spoke to the packed theater. Ms. Cole mentioned "the failure of political discourse" on gun control and the amount of children who die every day from gun violence.

Maria's brother, Chris Cuomo, led a panel discussion with four people from the film. He was sharp and articulate, carefully presenting differing viewpoints, which served to bring out further thoughts, information, and solutions. I imagine Governor Mario Cuomo, who was quoted in the film, is smiling in heaven right now, very proud of his children and everyone who is trying to make the world better.

One of the panelists, Newtown emergency room doctor William Berg, referred to the gun problem as "a public health crisis," which I think is smart. It's a good approach for opening the minds and the doors of change.

Another panelist, Nicole Hockley, mother of Dylan Hockley who was killed that day, has been named one of the 25 Women Changing the World by People magazine.

"I am not just hopeful for change, I am absolutely positive it's going to happen" says Ms. Hockley. "We just need to tackle it in a different way...Gun violence is preventable if you know the signs."

I'm so grateful I saw this film. Find out where you can see it too: Newtown.

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