50 years ago on August 1st, 1966, a sniper rode the elevator to the top floor of the University of Texas, Austin, Tower, and opened fire at 11:48am, holding the campus hostage for 96 minutes. When the gunshots finally ceased, the toll included 16 dead, three dozen wounded, and a shaken nation left trying to understand. In Keith Maitland’s critically acclaimed documentary TOWER, the film’s subject, 18-year-old freshman, Claire Wilson was the first person shot from the Tower. Claire, who was eight months pregnant, was walking with her boyfriend Tom, who reached down to help her; he was struck down as well. For over an hour of the siege, Claire remained exposed to the shooter, conscious and steadily losing blood, while knowing that her boyfriend had been killed and that she lost her baby. TOWER combines archival footage with rotoscopic animation of the dramatic day, based entirely on first person testimonies from witnesses, heroes and survivors of America’s first documented mass school shooting, in a seamless and suspenseful retelling of the unfolding tragedy. The film highlights the fear, confusion, and visceral realities that changed the lives of those present, and the rest of us, forever – a day when the worst in one man brought out the best in so many others. Director Keith Maitland joins us to talk about the mayhem and the courage that marked a day of infamy and prescience that echoes today.
FOR CALL TO ACTION: Twitter Handle: @TOWERfilm – Hashtag: #TOWERtogether – Hashtag: #GetAnimated
“Tower’ isn’t looking back on the tragedy – it’s living in it, a tick-tock of an afternoon’s terror, as uncertain of its causes or its outcome as the people on the UT campus were that afternoon.” – Jason Bailey, Flavorwire
“I rarely, if ever, use the cliche “a must-see movie,” but in this case it’s entirely apropos.” – Marc Savlov, Austin Chronicle
“A piece about adrenaline, bravery, grief and memory that stands as one of the year’s crowning achievements in emotional, illuminative storytelling.” – Robert Adele, The Wrap
“Maitland crafts an absorbing account of the circumstances surrounding the massacre, setting aside the analysis of Whitman’s motives (he also killed his wife and mother) for others to dissect.” – Eric Kohn, Indiewire