Filmmakers highlight gun violence issue

Tally Shorts Film Festival poster
Photo by Simone Williams

The 8th annual Tally Shorts Film Festival took place this past weekend. During the event, two Florida filmmakers showcased their works that shined a new light on the gun violence conversation.

Director Adam Schlachter’s documentary “And The Brave Shall Rise” followed the campaign of Cindy Polo as she ran to represent Florida’s 103rd District in the House of Representatives, citing the Parkland shooting as her political call to action.

“Someday my son is going to ask me what I did when 17 people were killed,” Polo said in the film, “I cannot look at him anymore and say that I did nothing.”

“I Will Not Say His Name” is another film that took a unique look at the issue of mass shootings by imagining a scenario where a young man anxiously watches the news after shooting up a school only to learn that his name will not be publicized. The film was inspired by multiple researchers who claim that publicizing the name of mass shooters inspires future mass shooters.

The festival showcased these two films one after the other, amplifying a powerful message of change. This choice was not lost on John Taylor Timmons, writer and director of “I Will Not Say His Name.”

“I’d like to commend Tally Shorts for putting these two films together,” Timmons said, “because we didn’t offer THE solution and [Adam] didn’t offer a THE solution, but together there’s two parts to a main solution.”

As president of Red Eye Film Productions, the team responsible for producing his film, Timmons has built a team of filmmakers who are passionate about taking advantage of film’s ability to support political activism.

When asked about the role of film in activism, Red Eye CEO Kewaan Kenneth Drayton said simply, “Lawyers play their part. Attorneys, police officers, government officials … Our role as filmmakers is to use our art to reach the public.”

The team’s lead producer, Madison Abernathy, mirrored her colleague’s sentiments and elaborated on the subversive power of media to impact the attitudes held by its viewers. “Media, film and art are the most accessible to the public,” she said. “We watch the news. We watch YouTube. We go on websites and read. But the things that really hit home are when you’re watching a movie and you’re actually able to absorb into that world. If we see an issue in the public, we need to be making a difference through our films.”

As the Florida Legislature remains divided on gun reform legislation, these films stand as a reminder that the onus for change does not rest solely on the politicians. It is the responsibility of everyday people to make a difference in their community using their own platforms, skills and talents.