Saturday, June 19, 2021

Tribeca with Abe: The Price of Freedom

I’ve had the pleasure this year of screening a number of selections virtually from this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, which runs June 9th-20th.

The Price of Freedom
Directed by Judd Ehrlich
Spotlight Documentary – Screening Information

It’s unlikely that there is anyone living in the United States without a stance on gun control. Those who believe it is too easy for someone to get a gun without being properly vetted and see the horrifyingly high number of mass shootings that occur every year tend to be in favor of creating obstacles and checks to ensure that only certain people can even own guns, while those who see other causes such as mental illness or inadequate security champion their rights to bear arms and not to have the government tell them what they can and can’t carry. This documentary takes a distinct and unyielding position on the issue but does so with a surprising amount of access to both sides of the debate.

The main focus here is on the National Rifle Association, which over the course of the past few decades has taken an increasingly offensive stance on ensuring that their membership stands in the way of any attempts to pass legislation that would make it more difficult for anyone to acquire a gun. The roots of the “good guy with a gun” concept are explored, as is the relationship that presidents like Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump have had with the gun lobby as it has transformed into an even bigger beast intent on defending its constituents’ alleged rights to be armed as they see fit.

This is absolutely a hot-button issue that will only continue to intensify as minimal action is taken on the government level to create any lasting change. Parents who lost children in school shootings in Sandy Hook and Parkland, names that are all too instantly recognizable to most Americans, convey their devastation that what they have experienced will happen to other parents because nothing is being done, and footage of an Obama press conference shows him vividly angry that his reform efforts were blocked by Republicans in Congress. It’s easy to understand the damage that can be caused by the widespread availability of weaponry and the complete lack of appropriate vetting of potential owners.

While that may be true for the average liberal voter, who is likely to be the audience of this film, that’s certainly not how everyone in the country feels. This film smartly enlists NRA representatives and other conservatives who likely see their participation as a platform to broadcast their defense of their civil liberties and freedoms. Yet this film doesn’t enable their opinions to be anything other than context for the way in which the NRA has systematically campaigned to ensure that guns will not be restricted. It’s both fascinating and infuriating, and it’s effective because even those who speak about their contrary viewpoints don’t try to hide or mask what they’re doing. This is an extremely uphill battle, and for it to be won, this film should be seen by as many people as possible to understand what is meant by the tasteless and unfeeling expression “the price of freedom.”


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