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Documentaries and other forms of non-fiction storytelling can play a critical role in challenging dangerous fantasies behind U.S. gun culture, exposing who is profiting from gun violence, and highlighting solutions that many people don't know about or don't believe actually work. Documentary storytelling can also give a platform to underrepresented voices and experiences of gun violence. How can filmmakers, funders, other media gatekeepers, and gun violence prevention organizations work together to enrich documentary storytelling in this space, expand narratives around gun violence, and spur systemic change? What are the challenges artists face in creating work related to gun violence — from funding an idea to collaborating with stakeholders? What are proven successful strategies and best practices for effective documentary film marketing, outreach, distribution, and impact campaigns relating to gun violence?
Groundbreaking research by Benenson Strategy Group (BSG) and Lester and Associates was released on April 28, 2016 alongside a policy roadmap that lays out a series of proposed policy solutions for gun violence based on conversations with community stakeholders in Richmond, VA, Milwaukee, WI, and Stockton, CA. The research and report grew out of a project launched last year by The Joint Center for Economic and Political Studies, The Urban Institute and The Joyce Foundation. The study found that African Americans and Latinos believe that fixing the gun violence crisis in the United States is a pathway to addressing issues with the criminal justice system, including police-community relationships and mass incarceration.
Gun violence inflicts a devastating toll on communities of color, but the justice system response to this violence frequently destabilizes neighborhoods and damages police-community relations. To develop a better response, the Urban Institute, Joyce Foundation, and Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies convened more than 100 people from communities affected by violence. We learned that violence prevention demands a holistic set of solutions. Limiting access to firearms is part of the solution, but a comprehensive strategy will also require improving police-community relations, investing in community services, and facilitating community leadership in violence prevention efforts.