A pair of New Orleans filmmakers originally from Shreveport will screen their new documentary Oct. 10 in Shreveport that is a commentary on youth gun violence in New Orleans.
"I would say a gun is way easier to get than a textbook down here," says one teenage boy in the documentary "Shell Shocked." The images show teenage boys in New Orleans neighborhoods flaunting their assault rifles and pointing them at the camera. A classroom erupts in a brawl at a New Orleans public school. Bodies lie on the streets captured by TV news reports.
"Shell Shocked" director John Richie and producer Jonathan Jahnke graduated from Byrd High School in 1996. A dozen years later they were working in the Recovery School District on an anti-violence campaign when they came face-to-face with the vast number of kids who were personally touched by New Orleans’ high murder rate. Their documentary presents testimony from children and victim’s families, like Leon Lewis. His predicament about whether he should leave his city is described by director John Richie who walks in his shoes.
“That’s the reality he’s living in is that there’s a good possibility I might be shot. Not because of something I did, but because of my family, my environment. That’s a real possibility in my life and that’s something I think about. I think that’s one of the saddest things I ever heard," Richie said.
The filmmakers started gathering footage in 2008. They gave away seven cameras to teens who recorded their daily life and intimate knowledge about gun violence. Producer Jonathan Jahnke said much of this footage made it into the documentary.
“One of the kids brought his camera to school. You get an inside look at what Orleans Parish schools are like. It’s all his camera on the desk, and it’s horrible," Jahnke said.
The 54-minute "Shell Shocked" will be screened Oct. 10 at 7:30 p.m., at Robinson Film Center. It will be followed by a Q-and-A with the filmmakers. "Shell Shocked" will be broadcast on LPB on Nov. 26 at 10 p.m., following "Frontline."