From the first frame, the documentary film, “After Parkland,” grabs the viewer with the visceral pain of a father who lost his daughter.
“My daughter was Meadow Pollack, she meant the world to me, and she’s not here anymore, she was murdered on Valentine’s Day over at the school, Stoneman Douglas,” says Andrew Pollack, with agony written all over his face.
The film has a sense of mission. Another grieving father, Manuel Oliver, is also featured. He lost his son, Joaquin, in the massacre.
“You don’t have to pay the price we paid to understand what’s going on,” Oliver says at one point in the film.
“Certainly with the fathers, with Manuel Oliver and Andrew Pollack, two fathers with very different points of view who will continue fighting for the rest of their lives every day,” said the film’s co-producer, Emily Taguchi, about the missions to which those dads have dedicated their lives.
“Our hope is this film sparks a conversation, sparks a dialogue, it’s an issue that gets politicized and it’s difficult to talk about,” added Jake Lefferman, co-producer of “After Parkland.”
The film takes the viewer into the lives of many of those most dramatically impacted by the tragedy. Parents and loved ones of those who died, and students who survived, are profiled in the months after the shooting.
“I was in the first classroom that got shot up by the shooter, and all around me there were people that were either shot or dead,” said Brooke Harrison, a junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who is featured in the film.
Brooke told us the images of carnage, of abject horror, are always in her mind.
“That and the screams, people praying and shouting and hoping they’re not next,” Brooke said.
When you watch “After Parkland,” you will be hit with waves of emotion which perhaps you thought, after two years, had passed; but the stories have a power that still resonates.
“Pittsburgh, El Paso, there’s been many many shootings, there are families, communities, going through the same the same thing, is this the reality we want to accept, or there has to be something different,” Taguchi said.
“The fact that nothing happened to me is a miracle,” Brooke said. “I think about how lucky I am every single day.”
The film is not political. While it shows the formation of the March for Our Lives movement, it does not take sides. The producers see value in all approaches taken by the Parkland families, from emphasizing school safety and hardening to gun control.
“You now something I think we learned is the deep ripple effects caused by an act of violence like this,” Lefferman said. “This kind of grief doesn’t go away, it will stay with this community forever.”
The film makes its South Florida debut Wednesday night at Savor Cinema in Fort Lauderdale. It will be followed by a panel discussion attended by some of the families featured in the film and tickets are still available.