I watched Columbine unfold in real-time as a senior in high school. After Sandyhook, only 52 miles from my own small Connecticut hometown, I thought, “Finally, something will be done.” 21 years later in 2020, my 3 and 4-year-olds do active shooter drills.
The Parkland students who survived their school massacre had activism thrust upon them. Kim A. Snyder’s new doc Us Kids follows the intense reality that these teenagers are still living. It’s an emotional gut-punch from every angle. It’s devastating, inspiring, hopeless, in your face, and unapologetic.
PTSD should not be a thing to bond over. There is a lot to unpack in this one single film but it’s all important. Pay attention to these kids. They are now voters. They are the ones doing the work that the adults are not doing. They are a force we should study and encourage.
Us Kids doesn’t let you forget how the media uses these young people as only as they see fit. Snyder pulls back the curtain on the days, weeks, and months immediately following Parkland. Using news clips, panel talks, confrontations with protestors, and intimate sitdowns with the key founders of the March For Our Lives Movement, Snyder is able to tap into the fear, anger, depression, and hardheadedness that drives them to be activists.
The opening and closing scenes of the film are perfect. You have to completely dismantle the system and rebuild it from the pieces left behind. The doc’s most effective moments come in Sam Fuentes’ story. The visceral impact it will have on the audience is immeasurable. Us Kids is about the freedom to live. It’s about letting kids be kids. They deserve it. The youth vote could actually change the world. This IS what democracy looks like.