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‘Us Kids’: #NeverAgain Activists Revisit Trauma of Surviving Parkland Shooting in the Media Spotlight

Sundance video: Kim A. Snyder's new documentary paints a never-before-seen portrait of the young activists who survived the shooting, and took political action afterward.

Us Kids

In “Us Kids,” documentary filmmaker Kim A. Snyder chronicles a new generation of political rock stars left pissed-off and enraged after surviving the 2018 shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The film just recently made its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, where many of the film’s subjects were also in attendance at the IndieWire Studio, presented by Dropbox, to discuss their activism work. That included Jackie Corin, Alex King, David Hogg, Emma Gonzalez, Sam Fuentes, Bria Smith, and Jackie Corin, with director Kim A. Snyder. Together, they are survivors of the shooting and part of the #NeverAgain coalition that formed after the tragedy.

“Us Kids” chronicles the impact on the teenagers as individuals who were wrongly co-opted, the film argues, by the media machine, often at the erasure of other victims or survivors following the Florida shooting.

“People saw them a lot as media moments, and although they were ubiquitous and they got a lot of media, there was this incredible story behind that that I really wanted to capture that was really more a coming-of-age story of remembering what it means to be 17 or 18,” director Kim A. Snyder told IndieWire. “Trying to imagine that against the backdrop against this issue in general. They were avenging the deaths of friends, and it was built on trauma…I really don’t think the nation was taking in the level of traumatized youth, and what that feels like, and the whole nation of youth was ready to be activated around that, and I think it was just sort of time and horrible tragedy, and Emma’s speech that day, that kind of was like a spark, and it was ready to be lit. That’s the story over two years that short-form media couldn’t really capture.”

“This film specifically, uniquely tells the story of what happens behind the scenes, what emotions we’re feeling, because oftentimes we have to go onstage and be very articulate and act like we’re, you know, 30 years old when in reality we were 17, 18, at the time this was being filmed,” Jackie Corin said. “People think that we’re crisis actors because we are happy, but it’s completely natural to have positive moments and have negative moments, even in a traumatic time.”

“The local medias that we did interviews with would typically crop out the other person and make the story simply about us, which is incredibly disgusting,” Emma Gonzalez said.

During a recent interview about “Us Kids,” Snyder said, “I don’t see it as a Parkland movie. […] I see it as a movie catalyzed by that horrific shooting, it sparked a movement that is sustainable, I think. They have over 300 chapters and are so intent on inclusion. Right away, they said, ‘This isn’t fair. Mass shootings are less than 2 percent of gun deaths; our counterparts in inner cities across the country don’t get the attention.’”

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