Did you know that an average of 32,000 people die each year in America from gun violence. That translates to roughly 88 people per day.
I tend to not watch the news. I find that the news is nothing but bad. I prefer to watch news that is heartfelt and inspiring. That usually means about the last 5-10 minutes of the CBS evening news when they usually show a “feel good” news story.
Even though I don’t watch the news that much, I find it staggering and frightening to think that an average of 88 people die each and every day here in the United States from guns – whether it’s by accident, murder and/or suicide.
I wonder why we don’t hear about most of these stories on the news?
Last spring (March – June 2014) an estimated 8,000 people were killed by guns in just that short amount of time.
A new HBO documentary airing on June 22, 2015 showcases some of these cases to help shine light on the little known stories of tragic loss, bringing the victims to life in their own words and images.
The documentary is called Requiem for the Dead: American Spring 2014.
Requiem for the Dead: American Spring 2014 was directed by Shari Cookson and Nick Doob (HBO’s Emmy®-winning The Memory Loss Tapes and Emmy®-nominated Paycheck to Paycheck: The Life & Times of Katrina Gilbert). This documentary is exclusive to HBO.
I’ve personally never seen a documentary done in such a way as Requiem for the Dead. Instead of a lot of talking and interviews the documentary features screen shots of newspaper headlines, 911 calls, photos from the victim’s Facebook pages and social media posts and photos from others. The documentary also features a lot of music that adds to the emotions and the drama showcased in the film.
Whether by homicide, accident or suicide, a wide cross-section of Americans – men and women, young and old, from every racial background – are victims and perpetrators of gun violence. With images from social media postings, frantic 911 calls, police reports and videos, each story is hauntingly laid out through the unmediated expressions that remain. Requiem for the Dead places the viewer in victims’ and their families’ lives, capturing the shock and grief felt by their loved ones as the survivors are left to make sense of the horrific events.
Among the eight stories from 2014 are:
- “Military Wife” – By all appearances, Kyla and Alex Ryng lived a happy life with three young children in Bristol, Conn. But the pair began having marital issues, and Kyla filed for divorce. Alex, a member of the Army National Guard, bought a gun, and shot his wife and himself a few days later while the kids were in their bedrooms.
- “My Rock Is Gone” – Tiffany Davenport married Melvin Ray in Topeka, Kan. on May 24. But the couple’s joy turned to tragedy in the early hours of the next morning, when she was killed in the crossfire of a gang shootout, leaving her new husband and daughter, Destiny, devastated.
- “In the Other Room” – Drafted by the Green Bay Packers, Jerel Worthy was always excited when his grandma, Mae Worthy, came to his games. When a gun handled by his grandfather discharged in the bedroom of his grandparents’ Huber Heights, Ohio home, the bullet passed through the wall and into the living room where Mae was sitting, striking her in the head and killing her.
- “Best Friends” – Lucas and Brady were 11-year-old best friends in Frazeysburg, Ohio, who liked to bike and play video games together. When Brady went into his dad’s bedroom one day to show Lucas a loaded pistol under the bed, it accidentally went off, shooting Lucas in the heart. Brady made a frantic 911 call, but it was too late.
- “My Most Beautiful Memory” – Eight days before Father’s Day, Renotta Jernigan of Chesterfield, Va. asked her husband, Chris, who had trouble holding a job and was suffering from depression, for a divorce. On Father’s Day, Chris shot and killed her and their two children (ages nine and two) before killing himself.
Bridging these main stories are dozens of headlines, brief, stark and shocking, coupled with vibrant photos of the people whose deaths are recounted. The film contains imagery for more than a hundred victims of gun violence in spring 2014, which is a small fraction of the 8,000-plus estimated to have died in that three-month period.
In addition to found footage, Requiem for the Dead uses 38 pieces of preexisting music from the internet, each with its own life and intrinsic emotion, which frame the moments collected.
As the stories accumulate, it becomes evident how many of these incidents could have been prevented by proper mental-health treatment, or if guns were absent or stored more securely.
I had the opportunity to screen the documentary ahead of time. I was not prepared for the emotional roller coaster I went on watching this film. I experienced a variety of emotions ranging from fear, anger and profound sadness.
When it comes to gun control I think more needs to be done to ensure that guns do not get into the hands of the mentally unstable. I also think that guns need to be hidden and secured when at home so that children don’t come across the guns and kill themselves and/or others.
It scares me to think that anytime, anywhere, innocent people who are in the wrong place at the wrong time have lost their lives to guns. This documentary shows the faces and stories of just a very small sampling of those whose lives were tragically cut short by guns.
It doesn’t matter if you are young or old, black or white, a gang member or devoted church goes, a mother or a single man… anyone can easily and unexpectedly fall victim to a random shooting or murder by gun.
Some of the footage in this film is very raw including video taken from a Policeman’s camera that shows four children whose father shot their stepfather in the head while they watched. I can’t even begin to imagine what those children must have been going through emotionally. How do you recover from something like that? Can you recover from something like that?
I would like to encourage people to take the time to watch this documentary in hopes it will help rally people for stricter gun control and other regulations that might help save an innocent life some day.
HBO playdates are as follows:
June 22 (4:35 a.m.), 25 (5:00 p.m.) and 28 (3:45 p.m.), and
July 3 (9:00 a.m.), 4 (12:30 p.m.), 9 (12:15 p.m.) and 14 (3:35 a.m.)
June 24 (noon, 8:00 p.m.) and July 7 (12:10 a.m.), 12 (8:30 a.m.) and 31 (8:15 a.m.)
Will you be watching?
*I received a free screener copy in order to do this review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way.