Meredith Vieira-Produced School Shooting Doc 'Tower' Sells to Kino Lorber

Courtesy of Tower Documentary

Executive produced by Luke Wilson, the film will get a theatrical release in October in New York, followed by a national rollout.

Kino Lorber has acquired U.S. distribution rights to Keith Maitland’s animated documentary Tower.

The film explores the tragic story of America’s first mass school shooting, where a lone gunman climbed a clock tower at the University of Texas in 1966, shooting 49 people and killing 17.

Executive produced by Meredith Vieira and Luke Wilson, the film had its world premiere at SXSW 2016, where it won the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award for best documentary feature.

Kino Lorber will release Tower theatrically on Oct. 12 at New York’s Film Forum, to be followed by a national rollout, marking the 50th anniversary of the shooting. The company also is mounting an aggressive awards campaign for the doc, as the issue continues to be as timely as ever.

On Aug. 1, 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 17 dead, three dozen wounded and a shaken nation left trying to understand. Director Keith Maitland mixes archival footage with rotoscopic animation to create a dynamic, never-before-seen combination. The film also reveals the untold stories of the witnesses, heroes and survivors of America’s first mass school shooting.

Producers include Megan Gilbride and Susan Thomson. Steve Eckelman, Amy Rapp, Sandy Boone, Louis Black, Pamela Colloff and Lois Vossen also executive produced.

Tower is that rarest of documentaries, seamlessly melding artistry and advocacy,” Kino Lorber CEO Richard Lorber said Monday in a statement. “In Keith’s brilliant filmic strategy, animation distances us from the numbing historical reality that began as a painful unprecedented news event. Watching this graceful, immersive work of art, we let down our defenses to fully absorb the meaning of the nightmare and deeply feel the emotions of his characters. It could not be a more important and timely contribution to the coming congressional confrontation over gun control, in light of the latest tragedy in Orlando. It’s a must see for every community in America and we could not be more committed to help make that happen.”

Added Maitland: “After 50 years of history, and four years of production, the untold stories of the Tower shooting can finally be revealed. I am very excited to partner with Kino Lorber as we bring Tower to national audiences this fall.”

Linzee Troubh of Cinetic negotiated the deal with Kino Lorber’s Wendy Lidell. Cinetic will launch international sales for the film at the upcoming Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.