On August 1, 1966, Charles Whitman took an arsenal to the top of the clock tower on the campus of Texas University in Austin and opened fire, killing 16 people and wounding another three dozen. It was America’s first mass shooting.
But this movie isn’t about Charles Whitman. It’s about the people to whom he happened–the victims, the survivors, the witnesses. Using a unique combination of rotoscope animation and archival film footage, filmmaker Keith Maitland recreates the events of that day as told by the people who lived it.
A mass shooting may seem an unlikely topic for animation, and animation may seem an unlikely medium for a documentary, but Maitland says he realized early on that he would not be able to use the Texas University campus to recreate events with live actors. With animation, he could portray the geography of the campus from the points of view of his various narrators, who include students, news reporters, law enforcement agents, and civilians who were there.
The result is a surprisingly moving account of ordinary men and women responding to what was, at the time, an unthinkable crisis. In 1966, there was no such thing as grief counseling or “closure” (just as there was no such thing as hostage negotiations–law enforcement made no attempt to capture Whitman alive.) Several of the interview subjects reveal that they have never spoken of these events to anyone in the fifty years since the shootings occurred, and it is evident that the emotion is still raw.
This film has, deservedly, won several awards, including the Critics Choice Award for Most Innovative Documentary, and the SXSW Film Festival’s Audience Award and Grand Jury Award. The Portland Public Library is proud to make this extraordinary film available to its patrons. Click here to request it.
Maine’s future prosperity depends on advancing innovative solutions to address community challenges, connecting people to opportunities, and strengthening our social fabric through broader civic engagement. This is the daily work of the nonprofit sector, aptly exemplified by Portland Public Library.
Step inside on any given day to find the Library connecting people to economic opportunities, nurturing innovative ideas, inspiring creativity, and fostering a joy of reading. This is all made possible by champions of a civil society in which free access and open exchange of ideas is valued and advocated. Our libraries are the repositories of the stuff that fuels our minds and souls, and I am continually impressed by the proactive ways my library colleagues share this deep well of knowledge and information with the community.
A true community center, Portland Public Library serves an impressive diversity of people. I am inspired by and grateful for this space where neighbors actually see and talk to one another face to face, given our evolving society that increasingly relies on virtual spaces for communication and dialogue.
The Maine Association of Nonprofits’ mission is to improve the quality of community and personal life in Maine by strengthening the leadership, voice, and organizational effectiveness of our state’s nonprofits. As a MANP member, the Library is part of a network of more than 800 nonprofits throughout Maine that are united around a common purpose: to advance the common good.
One of the larger nonprofits in Maine, the Library is part of a significant economic engine. In 2014, the state’s nonprofit sector employed 1 in 6 workers and contributed $11 billion to the economy. Portland Public Library is just one example of Maine’s approximately 3,000 public charities, sustaining dozens of jobs, while providing services and programs that make our community a better place to live and work.
Nonprofits are critical partners with government and business. Every day, they are hard at work, often with the help of hundreds of volunteers, weaving strong social fabric, cultivating civil society, and stimulating a healthy economy. Working hand in hand, we all can play a part in maintaining and improving the quality of life of our state.
Animation provides film makers with a variety of styles and techniques for realizing their artistic vision. On April 1st, the Portland Public Library will make available the entire adult animation collection from Videoport, along with the animation we have been collecting over the years. Try searching the keywords “animation,” or “animation for adults,” and request the films you want to see.