Newtown Shooting-Inspired Film Planned, as Nearby Community Resists

8:22 AM PST 02/05/2013 by Jordan Zakarin
NBC

Writer/director Jonathan Bucari is working to raise funds for a project called "Illness," which derives inspiration from the school massacre that left 26 dead.

In an age of warp-speed news cycles and TV shows that rely on sensational stories ripped from the headlines, is it too early to make a film that invokes a massacre that shocked the world less than two months ago?

Jonathan Bucari is pushing to find out.

The young and unknown writer/director is drawing outcries for his plan to make a short film inspired by the December massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, which left 20 young children and six adults dead. His proposed film, titled Illness, is seeking funds on the site Indiegogo, where it's described as "a story about the tragic fate of Benjamin, a thirteen-year-old boy with a terrible mental illness, and the ever-growing fear of his parents after they learn about the shooting in Newtown in December 2012."

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Bucari, whose lone completed credit on IMDB is the 2011 TV Movie The Sacrificial Lamb, has scouted locations -- including an elementary school -- in nearby Ridgefield, Connecticut, which has residents up in arms.

"I will do everything in my power to prevent this," the town's First Selectman Rudy Marconi told the local Dansbury News-Times. "It's bad idea. If you were to poll the residents in town, they'd be overwhelmingly against it."

The Newtown shooting, along with the theater shooting in Aurora last July, has opened a national dialogue on gun control and mental health. Both alleged shooters -- Adam Lanza in Newtown and James Holmes in Aurora -- allegedly suffered from mental illness.

Films such as 2011's We Need to Talk About Kevin address the growing menace of school shootings, and the Oscar-nominated dramedy Silver Linings Playbook, among other movies, have begun to poke into mental health and treatment. Illness' producer says that they share the same goal, writing on the fundraising page, "We are doing the film this because we believe in the power of cinema; because we believe in telling real, compelling stories. We believe that everyone can relate to this film and that we can make an impact on mental illness."

Bucari did not immediately respond to THR's request for comment.

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