Jun 17, 2019
I tend to avoid Christian films because they often weren’t very good. But I have to note one exception. Christian filmmakers, with decent regularity, know how to make a solid documentary. This isn’t always the case, but director Brian Ivie’s upcoming “Emanuel” is an engaging documentary looking at the families of the victims of the Emanuel AME shooting in 2015.
One can imagine how very political this topic is. The co-host to my podcast, “Literally Anything”, regularly states that everything is political by its very nature, especially in today’s society. Avoiding a political stance is in itself political. While I may not wear this attitude on all things I discuss, I can understand that perspective. Looking back on the events of the 21st Century, I can’t help but view it through the lens, or the barrel, of mass shootings. Shootings have become so regular and commonplace that there is a very real possibility, because I am writing this a few weeks before publication, that there might be a mass shooting between the time I wrote this and the time it reaches the reader’s eye.
Tensions start to swell in the aftermath of a shooting. While everyone advocates for the victims, those in the crossfire tend to end up as pawns for political collateral. I don’t think that people mean to do it. It happens on both sides of the gun control debate. At a time that most Americans are heartbroken from loss of life, spectators leave the debate with a dislike and distaste for their neighbors. And the cycle goes on.
Ivie’s film might be the best way to talk about a mass shooting. Removed from the immediacy of the events, “Emanuel” provides context for the events discussed. Rather than acting as a playing card, the film is the discussion we need. It places the focus on the victims and their families.
I remember Columbine pretty well. While Columbine became the template for how the media addresses violence on a large scale, the immediate aftermath seemed focused on the lives lost in the shooting. We were afraid and angry. We didn’t know how to handle this situation that seemed unfathomable. I know that Columbine wasn’t the first mass shooting, but it was probably the one that woke us up as a nation. We talked about the people. They were individuals, not statistics. “Emanuel” returns to that. While shooter Dylan Roof is addressed and analyzed in the film, the movie devotes the majority of the film to the victims’ families.