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Slamdance Film Looks At Gun Violence From A Different Perspective

Behind the Bullet

Like Sundance, the Slamdance Film Festival, taking place at the top of Main Street, often delves into difficult social issues.

A Slamdance documentary, “Behind the Bullet” looks at the moral and physical impacts of firing a gun.

The director, Heidi Yewman, looked at the cases of four people who fired a gun—Christen, a failed suicide who has required extensive medical treatment since the incident; Will, who went to jail after a homicide in inner-city Philadelphia; Taylor, a teenager who accidently killed his little brother a decade ago; and Kevin, who shot a home invader at his farm.

“There is a moral injury that happens when you shoot somebody. So, we go through each person’s story telling what happened and how they deal with the shame, the guilt, the tragedy, the loss and all the feelings that come with it. Various ways I found the people. Kevin, I actually found him on an NRA website that was trying to show that people need guns in their homes to protect themselves. I decided to call him and find out what the real story was and what happened. I thought well surely you don’t just shoot somebody and have a sandwich and go on with your day and your life. That is in fact what I found.”

Also appearing at Slamdance was Will, who talked about the aftermath of his case.

“I was convicted of murder at the age of 19-years-old. I served 10 years in prison and during my incarceration I decided to change my life. Heal myself, basically. To be able to spread this message out back into the community once I was released from prison. So, I started doing that once I was released in ’98 and started speaking and teaching and I spoke in Washington D.C. with a group called Mother in Charge who are women who lost their children to violence. That’s where I met Heidi at because I told my story about me being a victimizer and taking someone’s life and how that was for me. Basically, now my position is to stop violence in all communities.”

Yewman said she wanted to do something different with her view on gun violence.

“No one’s telling this side of the gun violence debate. No one’s talking about what does it mean to be the good guy with the gun and what are the consequences. I wanted to tell that side of the story and we can’t have a conversation if we’re preaching at people. So, I didn’t want to preach to the choir and I also didn’t want to provide simple solutions. It’s a really complicated situation. What will work to help reduce gun violence in one community won’t work in another community. As everybody works to try and put this problem back into bumper sticker solutions I’m trying to expand it and show the humanity of it and show the complexity of it. It’s much more complicated. I think sometimes people can be uncomfortable because they want that solution. They want somebody to tell them what do I need to do, what congressperson do I need to call? But that’s not what the purpose of this film is.”

Director Heidi Yewman and Will Little, from “Behind the Bullet”. It’s next showing is Tuesday, 5:45 pm at the Treasure Mountain Inn.

Known for getting all the facts right, as well as his distinctive sign-off, Rick covered Summit County meetings and issues for 35 years on KPCW. He now heads the Friday Film Review team.
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