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Ex-Westchester Resident Hopes For Social Change With 'Newtown'

The aftermath of the deadliest mass shooting of schoolchildren in American history is documented in "Newtown."
The aftermath of the deadliest mass shooting of schoolchildren in American history is documented in "Newtown." Video Credit: Abramorama Inc
Former Westchester resident Maria Cuomo-Cole, producer of "Newtown."
Former Westchester resident Maria Cuomo-Cole, producer of "Newtown." Photo Credit: Submitted
Kim Snyder, the director of "Newtown."
Kim Snyder, the director of "Newtown." Photo Credit: Submitted

GREENWICH, Conn. -- Kim A. Snyder and Maria Cuomo Cole, the director and producer behind "Newtown," know the film may be hard for many to watch, but they hope -- as the movie travels the festival circuit -- that audiences will react to its sense of purpose and community resilience.

The documentary, which focuses on three primary subjects, all parents who lost a child at Sandy Hook Elementary School that fateful December 2012 day, is having its Connecticut premiere Saturday, June 11 at 3 p.m. at Bowtie Cinemas in Greenwich as part of the The Greenwich International Film Festival. It will also show Sunday, June 12 at 6 p.m. with some of the families portrayed in the film at both screenings.

Already, it's gotten significant -- and positive -- buzz with critics describing it as “powerful and illuminating," "never exploitative and always honest," and "a breathtaking gut punch."

There's no doubt the film, three years in the making, opens up difficult conversations, explained Snyder, but it's her hope -- along with Cuomo Cole's -- that it also shows the strength and dignity of the Newtown community.

"This is a story of collective grief," she said. "Of what happens when the cameras are gone, of the fallout of this kind of trajectory and how it affected not only the entire town, but the entire country."

Snyder said she approached the film in a very organic way, starting first with the interfaith community, in particular with Monsignor Robert Weiss aka Father Bob, and only spoke to people that wanted to talk to her.

"The story is not a re-enactment about the tragedy," stressed Cuomo Cole. "It's about the community aftermath." Nor is it a social advocacy or political film.

"We don't sugarcoat things -- you can't with this subject matter," said Cuomo Cole, "But we do hope, that we can honor the pain and the hope that something can change."

Snyder added that the movie shows the community's incredible inspiration to pay it forward; of feeling like they don’t want this to happen to anyone else and they'll do anything they can in any way they can to make a difference.

To that end both Snyder and Cuomo Cole are launching a social impact campaign to delve into important issues related to health messaging and violence. Not just gun violence, they are quick to point out, but violence in general in our culture.

The movie, which has already been shown privately to select members of the Newtown community, is poised to have a theatrical release in September with a national broadcast on PBS’s Independent Lens in early 2017.

Snyder and Cuomo Cole, the latter of whom raised her children in Purchase and Rye, however, are most excited for the Greenwich screening. Said Cuomo-Cole: "The Connecticut premiere has a very special moment in our festival trajectory as it encompasses so many neighboring communities and friends of ours in neighboring communities."

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