'Newtown' paints a portrait of communal grief, recovery

Sat Oct 8, 2016 2:30pm EDT
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By Patricia Reaney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Nearly four years after the shocking massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, a new film, "Newtown," explores how a small Connecticut town has coped with the aftermath of the deadliest shooting of schoolchildren in U.S. history.

The film, which opens in New York on Friday, begins with a late-summer parade, a scene that highlights the innocence of what was in many ways a typical American town.

It then switches to a recording of the 911 call on the morning in December 2012 when 20 first graders and six educators were shot dead by a disturbed young man. "Newtown" shows how the event changed life in the town forever.

"It is that feeling of a joyful summer and then boom it's gone," said Kim A. Snyder, the director of the film, which made its debut earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival.

Snyder, who spent three years on the project, found a strength and dignity in the people of Newtown as they attempted to come to grips with the unthinkable.

"It explores the process of grief and efforts at making change," the 55-year-old director explained.

"Newtown" depicts members of the community as victims whose pain has endured long after the television cameras and news crews left town.

Parents of three of the children who were killed speak about how the shootings have devastated them. A surviving teacher, a first-responder, a custodian at the school, a neighbor and others share their experiences as well.   Continued...

A woman touches a printout of messages from teenagers around the United States at a memorial for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut December 18, 2012. REUTERS/Joshua Lott