Film Inspired By Newtown Tragedy Draws Protest
In the wake of the horrendous mass killing that occurred last summer in Aurora, Colorado, Hollywood responded by shuffling and censoring violent fare like Gangster Squad. This past December, Americans faced another terrible tragedy that rattled the entire nation, this one at an elementary school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut that left 28 dead, most of which where children. From there talk about gun control, mental illness, and violence in cinema were renewed, and movies that feature gun violence were frequently forced to defend their very existence. This is the heated environment that unknown filmmaker Jonathan Bucari has entered by proposing a film inspired by the Newtown tragedy.
THR reveals the short film that Bucari is currently seeking funding for is titled Illness and won't be a docudrama of the horrifying events of December 14th, 2012. Instead, it will center on a mentally ill 13-year-old Benjamin and his parents' ever-growing fear (presumably of him) following the Newtown tragedy. Bucari's only credit to date is a little-known TV-movie called The Sacrificial Lamb. Basically, Bucari has no reputation to speak of, but he's getting one fast with this taboo short that—according to Illness's Indie Go Go account—he hopes to screen at the illustrious Cannes Film Festival later this year.
According to this fundraising campaign spearheaded by producer Carina Rush (whose only previous credit is also The Sacrificial Lamb), "All funds and prizes won through Festivals will be used for the formation of a Foundation to help the many families with children struggling with mental illness." That might seem a noble promise, but first off, getting into Cannes would be a huge boon for the filmmakers and their aspiring careers. Second, short films don't often make money back. Third, the town leaders of Ridgefield, Connecticut, where Bucari hopes to shoot his film, want no part of his Illness.
First Selectman Rudy Marconi has vowed he'll do all that is in his power to prevent the short from lensing in Ridgefield, explaining to News Times,
"It's bad idea. If you were to poll the residents in town, they'd be overwhelmingly against it."
Times goes on to report that Bucari has declared, "We are not making a movie about what happened in Newtown and never will do so." But if that's true, it's a bizarre move to mention the tragedy explicitly in its Indie Go Go description. If Newtown was name checked solely to draw attention, then Bucari has certainly achieved that goal. However, little if any of the notice Illness has stirred has been positive as most are insisting it is way too soon to make a movie based on the murder of these teachers and children. If Bucari's goal is to discuss how mental illness is addressed in modern America that could certainly be done without alluding to a specific tragedy. But that wouldn't guarantee headlines, would it?
At this point Bucari has not responded to THR's request for a comment. According to Bucari's Facebook page, production on Illness is slated to begin this month.
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