One year ago today, I was in Gainesville, Florida, to film the 3rd installment of my documentary project All’s Well and Fair. The next morning, Rachel (one of the three mothers in the documentary) called me to tell me what happened overnight: a gunman shot and killed 49 people and injured many more at the Pulse Night Club only a few hours south in Orlando. There was that eerie deja-vu because it was Rachel who had called me from down the street in Brooklyn on September 11th, 2001, telling me a single airplane had just crashed into the World Trade Center. We watched the rest live on television and from our rooftop that morning in September.
When Rachel and I got off the phone on the morning of June 13th, 2016, I sat in my rental car in the hotel parking lot for awhile, overwhelmed by feelings, thoughts and finally an epiphany: this is why I’m making All’s Well and Fair – this is why I’ve always been making it! So I wrote the following post quickly on my iPad to share on social media… before another day of filming – now with two new interview questions: What are your thoughts in regard to the topic of mass shootings? What are your core values?
As the Orlando Pulse Night Club shooting is in the news again today, I realized I hadn’t shared that post from a year ago anywhere permanently. While I’m in the midst of editing the documentary now, my thoughts from a year ago are a guiding light. Not to mention that more shootings and terrorist attacks have happened since then… And our changed world and how different generations deal with it is an important aspect of the documentary.
My post from June 13, 2016:
On Saturday, the last thing I filmed was an interview with Laksmi, 15
now, 5 years old during our last installment. For 20 years, one of the
questions has been about government and war. When I asked her about her
views on that subject, I realized that she, at 15 in 2016, may live in a
world where the term “war” has been overtaken by the term “terrorism”.
So I added that word to my question. She immediately began speaking
about mass shootings at schools and movie theaters. It struck me that
this is the world she has grown up in – so different from the world me
and the mothers grew up in. Different even than her older sibling.
few hours later, a gunman killed 50 people, and injured another 50, at a
gay night club in Orlando – only two hours away from where the families
in our film live.
The gunman associated himself with a Muslim terrorist group, it was a gay club, it was Latin night.
Gender identity is another new topic, I have introduced to our 2016
conversations. Racism seems to be the only thing that doesn’t change out
In the last 24 hours, it seems more poignant than ever to
make this film about three families every 10 years. Some of the changes –
especially in how children grow up seem mind-boggling. The fact that
mass shootings have become so common-place is shocking to us of the
parent generation – but it’s part of the world’s landscape for these
In the context of our film, I also realize that to me
right now, it doesn’t matter if this man did this horrendous act due to
his goal of spreading Muslim beliefs, his hate of another race or of
homosexuals. What matters more to me is what core values, forms of
expression and response-patterns a person is raised with.
Well and Fair, I didn’t just pick some random families to film, and it
wasn’t about just filming three of my best friends every 10 years. It
was about three mothers, who despite raising children under challenging
circumstances, seemed to be raising their children with positive core
values and leading by example with healthy forms of expression and
Expressing yourself freely and creatively,
thinking critically, being open minded, treating others equally no
matter their gender or race, eating healthy, being active, not falling
into the trap of commercialism… These are some values I believe the
children of All’s Well and Fair are being raised with. And I believe
they are the kind of values that keep a person from killing 50 people at
a night club, school or movie theater. I believe these are the values
that keep a person from wanting to retaliate with hate, violence and war
mongering in response to a terrorist act like the one that just
I may be wrong about all of this. But to find that out is
the reason why I return to film these families every 10 years. I will
be interviewing them for another week to learn more. And when the film
is finished, you will be able to find out more too and hopefully be
inspired to think more on these topics as well.
I’m signing this with love and gratitude and with my personal motto “be brave and be kind.”