Point Of View

Point of View: Countdown to Hot Docs: Bowling for Columbine

If you’ve been reading the last few weeks, you know these PoV pieces are on my favorite documentaries, and saw that I referred to a documentary filmmaker friend of mine having been hospitalized with a brain tumor.

This list of favorites is entirely subjective, and is a way to honor her, as well as to serve as a weekly count down to the Hot Docs Film Festival in Toronto.
Just because we at Ardent do not make documentaries, does not mean we have not been inspired, influenced and moved by what documentarists do.

To Amelah and all the Documentary Filmmakers Everywhere: please keep rolling that boulder up the hill.

On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, two high school seniors in Columbine, Colorado, walked into their school and on a spree, murdered twelve students and one teacher.

Twenty-one additional students were injured, with three other people being wounded while they attempted to escape the school.

Harris and Klebold then committed suicide.

Bowling for Columbine‘ is Michael Moore‘s 2002 documentary that explores the possible causes of the Columbine High School shooting massacre as its jumping off point, and goes on to look at other acts of gun violence in the US. The film explores the background and environment in which the massacre took place as well as public opinions and assumptions about violence and guns in general via man-on-the street interviews, as well as interviews with historians, people who work in Defence and NRA members. The film also attempts to really get at the nature and history of violence in the United States.

‘Bowling’ won a number of awards, including the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature, an Independent Spirit Award, a special 55th Anniversary Prize at Cannes and the César for Best Foreign Film.

For anyone frustrated by gun violence in the US, the black humor and irony of the situation is beautifully illustrated in an early scene that depicts Moore discovering a bank in Michigan (his home state) that would give customers a free hunting rifle when they make a deposit of a certain size into a specific type of account.
We follow Moore as he arrives at the bank, makes a deposit, fills out forms, and awaits the result of his background check. He emerges carrying a brand new hunting rifle. In a clip used in the original trailer, just before leaving the bank, Moore asks, “Do you think it’s a little dangerous handing out guns at a bank?”

Although the documentary approaches its subject matter with intelligence and humor, a keen note of sadness underscores the entire piece, which is never greater than in its return to the events at Columbine, with some surprising security camera footage from the day.

The choice to use this footage was a good one, as it so simply shows how chilling the violence is in its banality.

And that’s a tragedy.

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READ Other Point of View Posts by Ardent Pictures:
Countdown to Hot Docs: Paradise Lost
Countdown to Hot Doc: Roger and Me
Countdown to Hot Docs: The Thin Blue Line

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