Nearly fifty years ago, a gunman rode the elevator to the twenty-seventh floor of the University of Texas Tower and opened fire. TOWER, an animated and action-packed documentary, shares the untold story of that day - when the worst in one man brought out the best in so many others.
In a Q&A, director Keith Maitland revealed that he filmed locations at the University of Texas with an iPhone in order to obtain the footage animators used for the rotoscoped backgrounds, while most of the actors featured in the re-enactments were filmed in his backyard in front of a greenscreen. See more »
I remember looking at the Tower, of course, a lot. And from the Main Mall you can see there's a biblical line from the Bible. "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." I've thought about it. One of the truths I learned... Is that there are monsters that walk among us. There are people out there that think unthinkable thoughts and then do unthinkable things.
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Powerful Film Recreating the 1966 UT Tower Shooting
SPOILER: Tower received huge ovations and overwhelming support in its world premiere at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin. It has already won the grand jury award for best documentary. This is powerful spectacular film that brings back the most traumatic event in the history of this city when a gun man from the UT-Austin's iconic tower committed mass murder on sunny day in August. The film was made to mark the upcoming 50th anniversary of the one of the earliest and one of the worst mass school shootings in American history. It will be released widely on PBS's Independent Lens later this year and possibly in theaters as well. There are still many folks in Austin who remember that day. The filmmaker made the brilliant choice to combine original news coverage with animation so as to recreate the tragic events nearly perfectly (without having to actually film people shooting on the UT- Austin campus). They use actor's voice to recreate the events which are based on interviews with many of the original participants (victims, police, witnesses). Very little is said about the gun man.
For those of us came to the Forty Acres (UT-Austin campus) years later, there is an eerie feeling in just watching the events play out at the center of campus where we know every building, every column, every statue like our own homes. The film is haunting and spellbinding. I really couldn't look away. Afterwards, many of the still living original participants who were portrayed in the film were present on the stage. The moving presence was Clare Wilson, the woman who was 8-month pregnant, and lost her baby and her boyfriend that day.
Tower remains mostly non-political as the film is mostly just a recreating of horror of August 1, 1966. Towards the end, it does speak to the current politics of the issue – particularly the Texas campus carry. That law is scheduled to take effect at 4-year universities in Texas on the 50th anniversary on August 1, 2016 – supposedly by coincidence. Those current day politics have become an unavoidable epilogue that have forced themselves into the debate. That will also be the day when they are planning to unveil an official memorial to the victims on the UT campus. This is a difficult film to watch, but it must be seen, because the history remains completely relevant today.
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