Anguish Into Action: It Takes Us

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In a ghastly synchronicity, a searing new photo exhibit and two films about our nation's relentless bloodletting, and the pain and grief of those left behind, have appeared less than 24 hours after the Charleston massacre again reminded us that almost nothing has changed. In the wake of our appalling, recurring acts of self-destruction, Joe Quint's "It Takes Us: Faces of Gun Violence" photo exhibit and his short film of Sandy Hook survivors - along with a film about Jordan Davis  - ask Quint's vital question, "What have we done?"and insist that something needs to change.

This week's New York opening of Quint's exhibition, which opened with a moment of silence for the latest victims of gun violence in Charleston, was organized by the Dads’ chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Everytown For Gun Safety. Quint started the project after a personal "tipping point" prompted by trashy tabloid coverage of last year's Isla Vista killings, which made him realize, "How can it not happen again? There hadn’t been this collective shift in the (country's) consciousness to prevent it."

His urge to share the stories of survivors of shootings led to his powerful black-and-white portraits in "It Takes Us," as well as a short film of Sandy Hook teachers talking, grieving and weeping for the event that had left them "shredded - this is who we are now." Also screening in New York this week is  “3 ½ Minutes, 10 Bullets," a feature-length about the Florida shooting of 17-year-old Jordan Davis by Michael Dunn. 

All the projects seek to remind us of the horrors left behind by our collective failure to stop the bloodshed, and to galvanize us to act. Natasha Christopher, one of the subjects of  "It Takes Us," lost her 15-year-old son Akeal when he was shot on a Brooklyn street. “The photographs you see capture moments of anguish, love and perseverance in each of us," she says. "We have not merely survived. We have turned our indescribable anguish into meaningful action that will help save lives.”

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