Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Showtime’s Active Shooter series takes viewers inside Emanuel AME attack as America reacts to Las Vegas shooting

Charleston episode premieres Oct. 13

Posted by Dustin Waters on Tue, Oct 3, 2017 at 9:52 AM

  • Screenshot/Showtime
Showtime’s new documentary series Active Shooter: America Under Fire begins with a familiar refrain.

Quickly flashing through newsreel footage from the past, we see scenes of chaos and carnage on American streets. The show’s opening credits span decades — grainy videotape transitions into high definition as the faces of the newscasters change and their wardrobe becomes more contemporary. Throughout it all, their message remains the same — a weary journalist behind a news desk names the newest city affected by large-scale gun violence. Then they declare that most recent attack to be the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. But the death tolls continue to rise.

With each episode focusing on a specific mass shooting, the series premiered last Friday with a look at the 2012 attack on an Aurora movie theater that killed 12 and injured 70. The series wouldn’t even reach its second episode before another mass shooting proved to be the deadliest in the recent history of the country.

On Oct. 1, just two days after Active Shooter premiered, a gunman opened fire on a crowd of concertgoers at an outdoor music festival in Las Vegas. The shooter, identified as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, was found dead in the 32-floor hotel room where police say he shot down at the crowd, killing at least 59 people and injuring more than 500. An arsenal of high-power automatic weapons was found in Paddock’s room, along with hundreds of rounds of ammunition. With Paddock dead, no explanation has been given for the attack. Investigators continue to search for a reason as to why an avid gambler residing in a retirement community would become one of the deadliest domestic terrorists in the nation’s recent history.

While the scale of the Las Vegas shooting is shocking, it is by no means unthinkable. Nonprofit Gun Violence Archive counts the attack as the 273rd mass shooting this year in America where four or more people where killed or wounded. According to Business Insider, a federal designation of a mass shootings sets the threshhold at three deaths during a single attack. By that standard, Las Vegas is the 38th mass shooting in America this year. And as many cities across America, Charleston has not been untouched by this brand of violence.

On Oct. 13, Active Shooter will air the series’ episode examining the events surrounding the 2015 shooting at Emanuel AME Church that left nine black parishioners dead following an attack by Dylann Roof, an avowed white nationalist bent on igniting a race war.

The episode begins with Rev. Anthony Thompson recounting the story of how he met his wife, the late Myra Thompson, who was killed in the attack. It’s the same story he described in detail during Roof’s federal trial that resulted in the gunman becoming the first person in the U.S. to receive the death penalty for hate crime charges. Sitting alone at a table in his home, Thompson recalls the life that he and Myra shared together and the night of the attack. He still cries, he says, and he still looks for his wife to be there every morning.

A title card reading “Wednesday, June 17, 2015” flashes across the screen, a date ingrained in the minds of anyone who has called Charleston home over the past years. Surveillance footage from that night shows members of Emanuel AME enter and exit the historic church. They are followed soon after by Roof.

Following a pained 911 call from inside the church, we then hear from former officer Andrew Delaney with the Charleston Police Department. Delaney was one of the first responders to arrive at the scene. He recalls a quiet Wednesday night in Charleston before the call came in from Mother Emanuel. Delaney remembers entering the church and finding the bodies of the victims huddled under tables in the church’s fellowship hall. Unaware if the shooter was still on the scene, Delaney says he realized he might die that evening as he moved deeper into the building.

On the floor, covered in bullet casings and blood, Delaney found Tywanza Sanders, Roof’s youngest victim barely holding on to life. The officer stepped away from Sanders as he continued to check the building. Sanders would later succumb to his numerous gunshot wounds.

Almost 20 minutes pass in the episode before the words “hate crime” are first mentioned. Following Roof’s path from the scene of the shooting to Shelby, N.C., where he was apprehended by police, the show details how information regarding the attack began to materialize over one of the longest nights in Charleston’s history.

Rev. Joseph A. Darby, vice president of the Charleston NAACP, recounts his reaction as he learned the story behind Roof’s motivations for the attack. Roof had indoctrinated himself in the lore of white supremacy online and was a frequent visitor to historical sites around the Lowcountry. There, Roof would revel in the history of slavery.
Darby says he was not surprised to learn that Roof was a “disturbed” young white man. He says Roof looked online to find a salve for his own feelings on inadequacy, spending his time in chat groups filled with white supremacists, which Darby refers to as the modern equivalent of a Klan rally.

The episode spends little time focusing on how Roof was able to obtain the murder weapon. A previous drug charge should have prohibited Roof from purchasing the Glock pistol that he used to kill those nine men and women, but a federal background check was not completed in time and after three days, Roof was allowed to walk out of the gunshop with the weapon in hand. It would be two weeks after the shooting that the gun dealer would finally receive notice that Roof had failed the background check.
  • Showtime
Along with Rev. Thompson, Sharon Risher also provides personal perspective on how the families of the victims were affected by the shooting. Risher lost her mother, Ethel Lance, in the attack. Both Thompson and Risher have become vocal proponents for national gun reform in the wake of the shooting at Mother Emanuel.

Rather than focus on gun reform in the episode, Active Shooter spends the later half of the episode examining the forgiveness narrative that developed from Roof’s bond hearing. In their first opportunity to address the gunman, Rev. Thompson and Risher’s sister Nadine Collier were among the family members who offered their forgiveness to Roof during his bond hearing, an act that Risher questions.

“The world latched on to the forgiveness thing because the real thing was too hard to take in, to understand, everything that had happened, the hate, wanting to start a race war. If that was going to be what they needed for Charleston not to be a Ferguson, then that’s what they were gonna go with. I did not agree,” she says in the episode.

Looking back on the shooting at Emanuel AME more than two years ago, Active Shooter provides an intimate look at the scene inside the church and the personal toll that the killings took on the first responders and families of the victims. While the role that the so-called “Charleston loophole” that allowed Roof to purchase a firearm almost comes across as a passing mention, the producers give adequate weight to the bigoted motivations behind the shooting and show that more than just a simple forgiveness is needed to address racism in Charleston and South Carolina as a whole.

In order of episodes, Active Shooter moves from the tragic events in Aurora, San Bernardino, Charleston, the D.C. Navy Yard, Santa Monica, Oak Creek, Orlando, and Columbine. Although each of these attacks is given its own episode, it’s difficult to think of these shootings in a vacuum. As we have seen in Las Vegas, Americans are rewriting the book on mass shootings every day and the body counts continue to rise. Judging from the Charleston episode, Active Shooter is an important series that shines a light on the personal effect that these attacks have on real people. Perhaps the most disturbing thing is that the series has no lack of source material.

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SC Film Commission selects three short films for Indie Grants program

Film S.C.

Posted by Connelly Hardaway on Tue, Oct 3, 2017 at 9:37 AM

Recent Indie Grant collaborator Russell Carpenter (left) is an Oscar-winning cinematographer who worked on Titanic. - PROVIDED
  • Provided
  • Recent Indie Grant collaborator Russell Carpenter (left) is an Oscar-winning cinematographer who worked on Titanic.

The South Carolina Film Commission has selected three short films for their Indie Grants program, which funds projects that create environments for emerging crew and professional development opportunities for South Carolina filmmakers. Each Indie Grants project employs Trident Technical College film students in its production.

In a statement S.C. Film Commission director Tom Clark said, "The Indie Grants have garnered a major reputation among producers, writers, actors, and all types of crew. Which is a way for us to show off the state's talent, location, and production value to the world."

This year's three selections are:

Whistler's Mother, from Robbie Robertson and Lorie Gardner of Columbia, S.C.
Plot summary: "The artist James Whistler spent years trying to capture the essence of his mother for his most famous work of art. Not to create a masterpiece, but to save his mother from possession by the Baba Yaga, an evil Russian witch."

Abducted, from Fort Mill S.C.'s Ben Joyner and Josh Barkey
Plot summary: "News of strange disappearances cast an unsettling mood as Jen, a young professional, goes out for drinks with a man she met online."

People Moving Through Time, from Columbia S.C.'s Seth Gadsden and Roni Nicole Henderson (which comes from a partnership with the Indie Grits Lab and Nickelodeon Theatre, both located in Columbia.)
Plot summary: "When car-sitting her mother's parked '84 Chevy Bonneville becomes too risky, 8-year-old Nena ventures into an escapist's dream, where she learns both pity and power."

The films will begin production later this year and into 2018.

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Thursday, September 28, 2017

'Beyond the Fields — Slavery at Middleton Place' premieres on SCETV this Sunday

Tune in

Posted by Connelly Hardaway on Thu, Sep 28, 2017 at 2:05 PM

  • Provided
Earlier this year Middleton Place started a Crowdrise page to help fund their documentary, Beyond the Fields — Slavery at Middleton Place, which is based on a 2008 book of the same name. The documentary was successfully funded and now you can check it out for yourself this Sun. Oct. 1 at 7 p.m. on SCETV.
Beyond the Fields — Slavery at Middleton Place (which won a gold medal from the Southeastern Museums Conference for excellence in the use of technology) is the culmination of research undertaken in the early 2000s, that explores the history of both black and white residents of Middleton Place.

  • Provided

In a press release Tracey Todd, COO of Middleton Place, executive producer of the documentary, and co-author of the book, says, "It was time to take the interpretation of the slave experience and bring it to a new medium, with new insights from present-day historians, researchers, preservationists and historic site interpreters, along with descendants of the Middleton family and of African Americans with roots at Middleton Place. They provide a much needed and fresh perspective on what life was like here when slaves built and sustained Middleton Place, Charleston, and, for that matter, the economy of the entire region.”

As we reported back in February, this isn't the first documentary about Middleton Place. In 2013 Middleton Place: A Phoenix Still Rising, celebrated the wildlife, gardens, and history of the plantation, but said little about race and the role of slaves at the national historic landmark.

  • Provided
Beyond the Fields — the book, documentary, and exhibit in Eliza's House, a freedman's house on the property — seeks to offer a raw look at what took place at the plantation, highlighting the roles slaves had. Middleton Place offers a tour that offers "an unvarnished look at the reality of slavery," including a visit to the stableyards and the plantation chapel. Learn more about Middleton Place's tours online.

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Cinebarre hosts Horror Fest 2017 starting next Mon. Oct. 2

From dead pets to reality TV

Posted by Connelly Hardaway on Thu, Sep 28, 2017 at 11:48 AM

Suzy ain't so sure about this ballet school in 'Suspiria.' - COURTESY REGAL CINEMAS
  • Courtesy Regal Cinemas
  • Suzy ain't so sure about this ballet school in 'Suspiria.'
Joining Regal Cinema locations across the country, Mt. Pleasant's Cinebarre presents Horror Fest 2017, a month-long event featuring classic horror films. Every Monday and Tuesday through October head to Cinebarre for movies screening at 7 and 10 p.m. Tickets are $5 for one screening and $10 for a double feature. Read on for the full schedule.

Mon. Oct. 2, Suspiria (1977)
Suzy travels alone to Germany to attend ballet school where she discovers that things aren't what they seem. (Spoiler: a bunch of people start to die).

Tues. Oct. 3, Fright Night (1985)
Charley Brewster thinks that his next-door neighbor is a vampire. Thing is, no one believes him.

Mon. Oct. 9, DOUBLE FEATURE, The Dead Zone (1983) / Pet Sematary (1989)
Johnny Smith awakens from a coma after several years to discover that he has powers (duh). / A buried cat returns to life with a not so great personality. When a child dies soon after, some people aren't so sure he should be buried near the same pet cemetery.

Get your horror comedy fix with 'The Monster Squad.' - COURTESY REGAL CINEMAS
  • Courtesy Regal Cinemas
  • Get your horror comedy fix with 'The Monster Squad.'

Tues. Oct. 10, The Monster Squad (1987)
This flick adds a little comedy to the horror genre with members of a monster fan club meeting Count Dracula, Wolfman, Frankenstein, the Mummy, and Gill Man.

Mon. Oct. 16, DOUBLE FEATURE, King Kong (1933) / Them! (1954)
The original King Kong, y'all. A film crew travels to a tropical island and a very large gorilla takes a liking to their female star. /  People are troubled by what turn out to be giant ants mutated by atomic radiation.

'A Nightmare on Elm Street' is perfect for, oh, we don't know, a romantic date night!! - COURTESY REGAL CINEMAS
  • Courtesy Regal Cinemas
  • 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' is perfect for, oh, we don't know, a romantic date night!!
Tues. Oct. 17, A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Freddy Krueger is a midnight mangler preying on teenagers in their dreams — and in real life.

Mon. Oct. 23, DOUBLE FEATURE, Cat People (1982) / Videodrome (1983)
Irena has a family secret, one that may rear its ugly head as she finds herself in a love triangle of sorts with a zoologist .. and her brother. / "Videodrome" is a reality TV show dedicated to torture and punishment and president of a trashy TV channel Max Renn wants in on the viewers. He sends his girlfriend to audition. She doesn't return.

Tues. Oct. 24, Jaws (1975)
Horror? Sure. Sharks can and will kill you, and you'll always need a bigger boat.

Mon. Oct. 30 & Tues. Oct. 31, The Shining (1980)
Double the fun for Stephen King's classic, The Shining. All work and no play for two nights in a row!

  • Courtesy Regal Cinemas
  • Here comes Johnny!

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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

New Halloween remake to begin filming in Charleston

The Shape returns

Posted by Dustin Waters on Wed, Sep 27, 2017 at 2:15 PM

  • screenshot/Compass International/Falcon Productions/Debra Hill Productions
  • Flickr user gageskidmore
  • McBride
Much like Haddonfield, Ill. in 1978, something sinister is headed to Charleston thanks to Danny McBride and the team behind the upcoming remake of John Carpenter’s slasher classic Halloween.

In a recent interview with Filmmaker Magazine to promote his new drama Stronger, director David Gordon Green said that the Halloween remake would begin filming in Charleston in six weeks. This announcement comes on the heels of the revelation that Jamie Lee Curtis would be reprising her role as Laurie Strode from the 1978 original. With a script cowritten by Green and fellow Rough House Pictures founder and Vice Principals star Danny McBride, the film set to be released in fall 2018 — 40 years after the original hit theaters — has already begun securing its horror bona fides.

Original Halloween director and the man behind the film’s chilling score John Carpenter has been named as an executive producer for the new project, according to Halloween Daily News, which will be produced by Jason Blum of Blumhouse, known for recent hits like Get Out and Split.

“Every horror fan knows Blumhouse and what they represent. The fact that me and Danny [McBride] wrote it is probably confusing to them, but we’ll keep that in the shadows. That is not going to be a part of how we campaign the movie,” Green told Filmmaker Magazine.

The story of an escaped mental patient returning to his hometown 20 years after he murdered his older sister on Halloween night has stood the test of time thanks in part to the original film’s simplicity. In May, McBride spoke about the film with Business Insider, promising fans of the franchise that the new remake will remain true to its roots.

“At the end of the day you’re dealing with a masked man who kills people and it’s crazy to see all the different sequels and what people tried to do or what might have been lost from the original in the hopes of creating more story,” McBride told an interviewer. “So we’re just trying to learn from that, and I feel what happened with Michael Myers, unfortunately, is in those later sequels he almost became a Frankenstein’s monster ... For us, we look at it, and it’s much scarier to just have that man who is hiding in the shadows as you’re taking the trash out to the backyard, as opposed to a guy who could be shot a bunch of times and still keeps coming back to life.”

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