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5th July by Margaret Wieringa
USA, 89 mins
Valentine Road is a documentary about the aftermath of a school shooting in Oxnard, California.
Larry King was from a broken family, living in a shelter for children who have been abused, and had just started to experiment with revealing his sexuality through his behaviour and dress. The day before the shooting, Larry had approached his attacker, Brandon McIrneny in front of a group of his friends, to ask him to be his Valentine. This perceived humiliation was more than Brandon was able to handle and he responded by bringing a gun to school the next day and shooting Larry.
Apart from being too long, with far too many extended shots of people (mostly teenagers) crying, it was an extremely interesting and well constructed film. It seems pretty open-and-shut – a kid shoots another kid and should be locked up. Gradually, though, we are given information about Brandon’s life and the society that these two boys grew up in that makes you question what punishment is appropriate and necessary.
Valentine Road is part of the Next Gen program of MIFF 2013. School bookings are available and there is a free study companion provided by ACMI. It would be a very hard film to teach, but for a mature group of students, there is the potential for deep discussion and learning.
For tickets, visit MIFF