A new short film by veteran documentarian AJ Schnack revisits American towns and cities traumatized by unimaginable acts of gun violence.
“Speaking is Difficult” combines recent footage of 25 mass shooting locations — a community college in Roseburg, Oregon; a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado; a parking lot in Tucson, Arizona, among others — with audio of police scanners and 911 calls made during the attacks. (The film uses the broader definition of mass shooting, which sets the threshold at four or more people hit by gunfire.) By pairing placid images with harrowing calls for help, Schnack told The New York Times he hoped to “at least remind people that this is not normal.”
The 12-minute short was released online Tuesday by Field of Vision, the visual journalism unit of The Intercept. Schnack, the director of “Kurt Cobain: About A Son,” founded the initiative with Laura Poitras and Charlotte Cook. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January.
The most recent mass shooting site included in “Speaking is Difficult” is San Bernardino, California, where a husband and wife who had claimed allegiance to ISIS killed 14 people in December. But Schnack says he will treat the film as a living document, and it could soon grow in length. As he told The Intercept, “We are going to add to the film if these events continue. And unfortunately I cannot be optimistic that they won’t.”
[Photo: Screenshot, “Speaking is Difficult”]