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'Move' documentary explores individual, citywide impact of gun violence


On the night of August 19, 2015, the jovial atmosphere that followed a basketball game at the Rochester Boys & Girls Club on Genesee Street was shattered when several individuals opened fire on the crowd outside, leaving three dead and four others injured. The senseless and horrific tragedy shocked the city, and left a community reeling.

The new locally-produced documentary "Move," from first-time filmmaker Tam Little, chronicles that mass shooting, but from the tragedy seeks to inspire change and spur viewers to take action.

A personal connection to Lentory Johnson, the mother of shooting victim Johnny "J.R." Johnson led Little to begin work on a video memorializing his life. Deciding to expand the scope of her project, she reached out to the families of the other young men who were killed that night: Jonah Barley and Raekwon Manigault.

"I wanted to put a face and a name -- I wanted to humanize them and let everyone know that there were people that loved them," Little says. "They were cared for, they had lives, they had a future."

Through interviews with the families of the three victims, Little paints a moving portrait of young lives tragically cut short, and the hole their deaths left behind. But as she heard the stories of those families, she grew determined to create something even more ambitious. Moving past the crime itself, "Move" covers the trials of three men accused of carrying out the shootings, before transitioning into an exploration of the aftermath and its effect on the victims' families and neighborhoods. As they attempt to cope with the devastation, many are galvanized to join the anti-violence movement.

Little turns her camera on groups like Kick the Violence, Save Our Youth, and several others that work to stop further bloodshed and have a positive impact on their community. By showcasing their work, Little hopes that viewers will be inspired to take action against the country's ongoing epidemic of gun violence.

"What I'm showing are the grassroots initiatives that sprung up and that are continuing to go on," Little says. "I wanted to make sure I captured that and didn't just say, 'this was a tragedy.' Yes, it was a tragedy. Yes, people's lives were lost. But what are we doing about it?

"It's called 'Move' because I want people to get up and move. To use their God-given gifts, talents, and passions to not just reduce gun violence, but to make their communities safer. To do things in their neighborhoods and in their schools. Because this type of violence affects everybody."

The One Take Documentary Series and The Black Cinema Series will screen "Move" at the Little Theatre (240 East Avenue) on Tuesday, December 12, and Friday, December 15, at 7 p.m. Panel discussions are scheduled for each screening. The panel following Tuesday's screening will include Lentory Johnson, Chiara Smith of SOY (Save our Youth), and Quartermaine Titus. Friday's panelists will be Anita Barley (mother of Jonah Barley), Tammy Burnett (mother of Raekwon Manigault), and Marlon Dixon, founder of Kick the Violence. Tickets $4-$9. 258-0400;

Coming Attractions:

The Rochester Jewish Film Festival and the JCC will host the local premiere of the documentary "Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story" on Sunday, December 10, at 6 p.m. Incorporating a recently unearthed 1990 audio interview with Lamarr, director Alexandra Dean allows the actress herself to tell her own story, detailing how she worked as a starlet by day, and by night aided the Allied war effort by brainstorming a new system of wireless communication. The idea laid the groundwork for GPS, Wi-Fi, cell phones, and other technologies. Chronicling the remarkable life of a singular individual, "Bombshell" is one of the most fascinating documentaries of the year. The screening will be held at the JCC Hart Theater (1200 Edgewood Avenue). Tickets $5-$10. 461-2000;

WXXI and Friends of Ganondagan will present a free screening of "Secrets of Spanish Florida -- A Secrets of the Dead Special" at the Little Theatre (240 East Avenue) on Monday, December 11, at 6:30 p.m. The documentary follows a team of researchers exploring America's lesser known roots as they study the Spanish colonists responsible for creating the United States' first permanent European settlement in Florida back in 1565. The film will be followed by a discussion moderated by Dr. Donald Grinde, professor of American Studies and History at the University at Buffalo. 258-0400;

Finally, end the year on a fizzy high note when the Dryden Theatre (900 East Avenue) presents Frank Capra's screwball masterpiece, "It Happened One Night," starring Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable, on Sunday, December 31, 7:30 p.m. $4-$8. 327-4800;

Have information about an upcoming film event or screening? Send details to [email protected].