Tower takes us back to the University of Texas in 1966 when the nation's first, worst mass shooting happened.
At this very moment, according to the Texas Penal Code, an individual is prohibited from intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly possessing or going with a firearm on the physical premises of a school or educational institution. On August 1st of this year, however, all Texas state 4-year colleges and universities will effectively permit individuals who have obtained a concealed handgun license (CHL) to carry their loaded, concealed weapon on college and university buildings.
With that being said, on July 31st, almost 50 years to the anniversary of our country’s first mass school shooting, the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin will hold an honorary screening of Keith Maitland’s award-winning documentary, Tower. On August 1st, 1966, a sniper rode the elevator to the top floor of the University of Texas Tower and opened fire, holding the campus hostage for 96 minutes. When the gunshots were finally silenced, the toll included 16 dead, three dozen wounded, and a shaken nation left trying to understand. Combining archival footage with rotoscopic animation in a dynamic, never-before-seen way, Tower reveals the untold stories of the witnesses and survivors of America’s first mass school shooting, when the worst in one man brought out the best in so many others.
Executive produced by Meredith Vieira and Luke Wilson, Tower explores this untold history through the first-person stories of seven specific characters: two students who were shot that day, the two police officers who ended the siege, two civilians who inserted themselves into the story to provide aid to victims and police, and the radio reporter who broadcast live from the scene for more than an hour and a half, and whose broadcast was picked up nationally, bringing the events in Austin to listeners around the nation. Exploring the ways in which this tragedy affected our characters over a lifetime offers a window into the wide spectrum of human response and recovery. The importance of sharing one’s experience openly and creating community with fellow victims and witnesses is illustrated through the regrets and revelations of our characters over the course of fifty years.
Variety named Keith Maitland to their list of “10 Documakers to Watch,” this spring and hails the film as “A gripping dramatic reconstruction, a tribute to the heroes and the fallen…Keith Maitland’s film weaves rotoscopic animation, archival footage and present-day interviews into a uniquely cinematic memorial,” while Indiewire raves, “Keith Maitland’s strikingly original Tower recreates the drama with a mixture of animation and contemporary interviews, imbuing the catastrophe with renewed immediacy.”
Tower opens in New York October 12th with a national rollout to follow.
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