2015-2019 were the deadliest years
for mass murder in US history, with the most shootings, deaths, and casaulties ever recorded.
AHS is a feature documentary designed to help us better understand, heal from, and prevent mass shootings. It is based on the premise that we are stuck, and that the path to getting unstuck involves opening our minds, looking in new directions, and asking new questions.
In the 20 years since the attack on Columbine High School, mass shootings have only gotten worse. Reducing the problem to the false dichotomy of guns vs mental health has done nothing to alleviate the violence. Yet we continue to have the same reactions and debates in the aftermath, expecting a different result and getting no where. Instead of asking "Why?" AHS asks "Why are we still asking 'why'?"
In order to spark new ideas, AHS shines a light on people on the front lines, experts and civilians alike, who are working to end the cycle of escalating mass violence. Their messages and stories offer invaluable insights and hold a mirror up to society, asking the audience to question their own role and dares them to believe they can be part of the solution.
More than a documentary, AHS is a call to action for viewers to become participants in creating a less violent future. Once we stop looking for simple problems and silver-bullet solutions, we start to appreciate the complexity of the confluence of issues at hand and a plethora of new solutions comes to light.
Trauma & Confusion
20 years after the attack on Columbine, mass shootings are at an all-time high and nothing we've done to stop them has worked.
Act I examines the trauma, confusion, and misconceptions that spread in the aftermath of a mass public shooting - and how our reflexive, repetitive response does nothing but keep us stuck.
Psychologists explain the nature of collective trauma and how we are now living in a constant state of fear, easily triggered into believing our lives are in danger. PTSD is discussed as an injury that happens to us rather than an illness.
TERMS & DEFINITIONS
Classifying mass murder is notoriously complex. AHS looks at the variety of organizations tracking them and analyzes how the wide variety of results paints two very different pictures. The etymology of the terms used to describe such attacks reveals a colorful history that spans the globe.
MEDIA & MYTHS
The media profits from attention, so they weave a tale of good vs evil with heroes and villains, and traumatize viewers with their coverage. Experts break down some of the most popular, pervasive, and harmful myths about mass shootings. The notion that mass shootings are a modern, American phenomenon that started with Columbine and is perpetrated mostly by young white males is challenged and debunked.
Data & Society
Getting 'unstuck' begins with awareness of the facts and looking at society and our failures.
WHAT DOES THE DATA SAY?
The Violence Project shares their groundbreaking study of the history of mass shootings in the US, breaking down statistics on the demographics of the perpetrators and nature of the attacks. They share their "Pathway to Violence" model which reveals opportunities for crisis intervention, and offer recommendations at individual, societal, and institution levels.
Impacted by two major events in Littleton and Aurora CO, the Singular family kick starts a difficult conversation about society's role in the phenomenon. Nothing is off the table as our interviewees discuss big pharma, war, entertainment, technology, and the American dream.
MISTAKES & FAILURES
The logic of failure dictates that our fear of mass shootings have lead us to take actions to prevent them that actually make things worse, a phenomenon known as the "cobra effect." Our experts highlight some of our biggest mistakes and failures to stop preventable attacks, from Parkland to Las Vegas, so that we can learn from the past and honor the lives that were lost.
AHS calls upon it's audience to be participants in creating a less violent future, empowering them with practical advice from thought leaders across a variety of sectors.
Healing begins with and is not possible without forgiveness. Although rare these days, examples provided by communities in Charleston, SC, rural PA, and an indigenous reservation in Minnesota demonstrate the power of forgiveness. Forgiveness is evaluated as as super power and a gift you give yourself.
CHOOSING LOVE - SOCIAL & EMOTIONAL LEARNING
Scarlett Lewis lost her son Jesse in the attack on Sandy Hook Elementary, and today she honors his memory by championing his message of Nurturing, Healing Love through the Choose Love Movement, a non-profit org. that promotes SEL in K-12 schools across America and the globe.
EMPOWERMENT & TAKING ACTION
In conclusion, all of our interviewees offer practical advise on where and how to seek help and what we all can do to be a part of the solution. There's nothing more healing than taking action, and AHS is a film that not only dares viewers to believe they can make a difference, it presents numerous ideas on how to do it.
"Now is the time to understand more and fear less."
- Marie Curie
The worst thing we can do as a society is accept this violence as the new norm, or believe that it could never happen to us.
AHS is about opening our minds to what we can, and must do, in order to shift the tide. Our goal is to foster a sustained, informed, and broader conversation about how to address mass violence in the US that transcends politics and unites us in our common goal to see a reduction in mass murders.
Utilizing screenings of the film as an opportunity to spark a much needed yet challenging dialogue with audience members and viewers at home and in the classroom, AHS will be presented virtually and in-person with responsibly moderated post-screening panel discussions with the filmmakers and our expert cast members alike.