Midsummer in Newtown

The 2016 Seattle International Film Festival welcomed another entry from the USA. This is a documentary about the Sandy Hook school children after the horrific slaughter that took place in 2012.  It was the second deadliest mass shooting at a school by a single gunman in history. One of the executive producers is Paul Allen through his Vulcan Productions. I am so grateful to see his company is involved in such worthwhile projects.

Director Lloyd Kramer has crafted a sensitive, entertaining and educational film using interviews and filmed auditions and rehearsals as a New York director comes to Sandy Hook to test the healing power of art. His idea is to have local children perform an original musical version of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Most of the children know nothing about Shakespeare but gamely show up for auditions and are surprisingly open to learning about stage craft, the Elizabethan language, and theatre terms: "Table Read," "Off Book," "Tech Week," etc. The only professional actor is the fellow who plays "Bottom."

We come to know many of the children, their teachers, their parents and their siblings. We see what each one went through and watch them grow as they master a brand new skill and learn how satisfying a hearty round of applause can be. They are uniformly articulate, insightful and interesting. More than a few suffer from PTSD.

Sandy Hook is a leafy little Connecticut town that was chosen by more than a few families as a nice place to raise their families. Grieving parents have summoned the strength to become involved in national issues that also address violence. And they do NOT overlook the perpetrator, indeed they realize that his life must have been miserable to have been driven to such an action. 20 children and 6 adults died in that incident but the town is united in its determination to provide support and affection for everyone who lives there.

This is a keeper.