Selected Documentary Films
- American Trauma: Why Doctors Are Taking On the NRA (2019, 10 minutes): This Atlantic magazine short video illuminates trauma surgeons’ response to the NRA tweet that doctors should “stay in their own lane.” Diverse trauma surgeons are shown at work, describing the scope of the public health crises and calling for research to better understand and address it. Dr. Mallory Williams, at Howard University, observes that he treats more gunshot wounds in DC than he did in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
- Armed in America: Police & Guns (2016, 63 minutes). Led by Michel Martin, weekend host of NPR’s “All Things Considered,” the town hall covers a vast range of perspectives and personal anecdotes that provide a human insight into topics that touch every corner of the gun violence debate: from the federal program which authorizes the distribution of surplus military equipment to police departments free of charge, to police response to protests, to no-knock raids and the War on Drugs.
- Awaken: A Tale of Inner-City Violence, Crime and its Impact (2019, 33 minutes). Commissioned by the YMCA, “Awaken” is a youth-led project about gun violence and its effects on a community in South Philadelphia. Recognizing that the YMCA has been entrenched for many years as a safe haven in the neighborhood, director Lance Lee and colleague Warren Brown assembled the Center’s at-risk youth to contribute first-person narratives. Participants aged 12-18 have all been impacted by gun violence.
- Beyond the Bullet: The cost of gun violence (27 minutes): Produced by WXYZ.Com, ABC Channel 7 in Detroit, this documentary highlights the costs of urban gun violence. It focuses on 2 wounded survivors—a 9-year-old girl who uses a wheelchair, and may never walk again, but has a sunny disposition, and a 26-year-old man who uses a walker after being robbed and shot at a gas station and has no way to pay his mounting medical bills. Taxpayers also bear the costs of gun violence also costs taxpayers, as Michigan Medicaid pays out millions of dollars annually for inpatient treatment of gunshot wounds. The film also includes a look inside the gun vault for Detroit Police.
- Five Awake (2016, 36 minutes): Louisiana has been described as one of the most dangerous places in America for women due to domestic violence homicides. But five strong, determined Louisiana women helped change that. This documentary short film chronicles their championing of a historic legislative package to protect victims of domestic abuse and save lives. Their advocacy resulted in unanimous passage of the most comprehensive package of bills ever aimed at stopping domestic violence. “Five Awake” shows how grass roots efforts by the public led to significant and unexpected victories in the Louisiana Legislature.
- Guns Found Here (2018, 11 minutes): This short, Emmy-nominated documentary focuses on the only place in America where a crime gun can be traced back to its owner: Martinsburg, West Virginia. That’s where the ATF’s National Tracing Center handles roughly 8,000 active traces per day — all while inside a government-mandated technology time-capsule that makes searching a database of gun owners impossible. With more gun stores in the U.S.A. than McDonalds, Starbucks, and supermarkets combined, there’s a lot of paperwork to manually sort through.
- Living for 32 (2010, 40 minutes): The inspirational story of Colin Goddard, who survived the tragic shooting at Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007. Goddard shares his terror and pain during the shooting, which left 32 classmates dead and his resilience through multiple surgeries and years of physical therapy. He widens the focus to examine the easy availability of guns in Virginia and shares his passion for reducing gun violence by working for laws requiring background checks for all gun purchases.
- 91% A Film About Guns in America (2016, 72 minutes): Produced by Holster Films and directed by John Richie, the creator of Shell Shocked, the documentary examines the national conversation surrounding gun legislation. In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, a 2013 poll revealed that 91% of Americans support comprehensive background checks - a factor that could prevent thousands of similar gun violence tragedies nationwide. Yet, divisive political rhetoric and congressional gridlock perpetuate a flawed system that hurts communities across the country. In the film, gun violence victims tell their heartbreaking stories of loss, pain, and a heroic search for hope in a nation stalled in a senseless gun control debate.
- Speaking Is Difficult (2016, 22 minutes): Produced by New Yorker video, this compelling documentary depicts a series of mass shootings, both visually and through the voices of emergency call center staff and first responders. One reviewer noted that the film “always begins in the present day. A scene of tragedy unfolds. As it rewinds into the past, retracing our memories, it tells a cumulative history that is unbearable and inevitable.” The title refers to Representative Gabrielle Gifford’s’ speech to the House of Representatives after she had partially recovered from being shot. Directed by A. J. Schnack and produced by Field of Vision films, it was nominated at the Sundance film festival and awarded best documentary short at the Traverse City Film Festival.
- The Gun Nation (2016, 30 minutes): British photographer and filmmaker Zed Nelson tracks down the people he photographed for his seminal book, Gun Nation in 2000. Since then, 500,000 people were killed and many more wounded. Traveling through states reeling from school shootings, Nelson asks the gun owners why, despite the enormous death toll, they still fiercely resist even moderate gun-control laws.
- 10-71 Shooting Aftermath (2019): Filmmaker Annette Aragon's brother, Israel Aragon Jr., was shot and killed in Albany Park, Chicago in 2016. Still in college at the time, she responded by creating a documentary named after the police scanner code for an active shooting. In the film, she explores how families process grief after the news cameras go away.
- Trigger: The Ripple Effect of Gun Violence (2017, 55 minutes): In this documentary, award-winning filmmaker David Barnhart moves away from polarizing debates to lift up the voices of individual survivors. Their stories illuminate the ripple effects of loss, grief, and trauma affecting individuals, families, neighborhoods, and whole communities. Production was supported by the Presbyterian Church, USA in response to its 2010 General Assembly resolution on gun violence and Gospel values.