In 2019 there were more mass shootings in America than days. Let that just sink in for a moment. These murders take place in a variety of locations, but all too frequently happen in schools. Many of these massacres are now notorious. The list seems endless, but the most well-known are Sandy Hook, Columbine, University of Texas tower, Virginia Tech and Parkland. Kim A. Snyder’s focuses on the survivors of the Stoneman Douglas High School shootings in her new documentary, Us Kids.
In February 2018, a former student returned to the institution that suspended him and opened fire, killing seventeen and injuring seventeen more. The survivors were then thrust into the limelight, with the world’s cameras trained on them. They took the opportunity to call for stricter gun laws on order to prevent further senseless murders. Finding themselves the figureheads of a new youth movement, they spent the subsequent months touring round the US spreading their message.
Us Kids is a fascinating insight into the lives of a group of Parkland survivors as they come to terms with their grief whilst in the constant glare of the public eye. Emma González, David Hogg and other Parkland survivors faced a daily media frenzy, determined to use their experiences to drive their activism. Whilst Snyder affords her audience a unique angle, we seldom get a glimpse under the skin of these steadfast campaigners; but as the trauma catches up with them you can see the sheer toll this is taking. Us Kids is a tale of bravery. Not in surviving a mass shooting but having the courage to re-visit it on a daily basis.
Us Kids is available to stream as part of Sheffield Doc/Fest.