TRIGGER: A documentary film by First Person Arts aims to tackle the city’s current plague: Gun Violence

Following in the footsteps of internationally recognized We Breathe, We Live: Brotherly Love Protest Stories, the new film TRIGGER is both a call to understanding and a call to action about the roles each of us has to play in combating the gun violence epidemic in Philadelphia and beyond. Featuring storytellers from Philadelphia sharing their lived experiences with gun violence and their shared search for hope with a vengeance. After the premiere, the film will run for the public at pre-selected locations throughout the city between Jan – June 2023.

When Engaging Males Of Color approached First Person Arts’ executive director Jamie Brunson with the question “Can the art and craft of storytelling be used to help heal the trauma experienced by communities and promote resilience?” She knew immediately how the storytelling organization could help. 

“First Person Arts utilizes the art and craft of storytelling to foster appreciation among people for the unique experiences that once shared, connect us to each other.  The  process includes a few parts.  First, we identify a storyteller that has lived experience with a theme or  issue – in this case- gun violence.  Using the art and craft of memoir, we work with them to develop that lived experience into a short memoir.    The art of memoir requires that the storyteller examine a lived experience to determine what made it a defining moment in their lives.  That requires bravery, patience and grace.”  Brunson explained. 

Brunson says, “This defining moment that forever changed you — gives you a unique life lesson that can and needs to be shared with others.  For many people that we work with, this is the first time that they have done this work. It’s the first time they’ve “heard” their own voice, embraced their own resilience.  The next step is magical.  When a storyteller shares their story, they connect with others.  If your heart is open when hearing a story, you’ll connect across every boundary that separates us.” 

 A father who lost his son, a trauma nurse at a city hospital, a high school principal, community activists, doctors, scholars, shooters, victims, and their families all share their stories revealing layers of hurt that extend beyond the individual, family, and first responders to entire communities in need of healing. And yet they each search for hope with a vengeance. These storytellers are committed to using their horrific experiences to help others. For some, resilience and hope are key elements of survival.  

A screening of TRIGGER will take place Monday, Oct.17 at The Parkway Central Library, Skyline Room and Terrace, 1901 Vine St., PA 19103. Doors open at 5 p.m, screening at 6pm. Refreshments will be served. A post-screening talkback moderated by Chad Dion Lassiter, MSW will follow. More info and tickets can be found here.

Featuring: Chuck Horton, Le’yondo Dunn, Rosalind Pichardo, Dr. Ruqiyya Greer, Joel Seay, Dr. John Rich, Bruce Nash, Ramon Cruz, Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, Anton Moore, No Gun Zone and Yolanda Hughes. Also featuring: Malik Gray, Gabriel Bryant, Jahir Williams-Hill, Lamar Davis, Kyle Sutton and Craig Terry.

Post-Screening Talkback Moderated by: Chad Dion Lassiter, MSW
Directed by: Glenn Holsten. Produced by: FreshFly Films

Presented by the City of Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services, the DBHIDS Division of Planning Innovation, and the DBHIDS Engaging Males of Color Initiative.

About First Person Arts:
Founded in 2000, First Person Arts transforms the drama of real life into memoir and documentary art to foster an appreciation for our unique and shared experience. First Person Arts believes that everyone has a story to tell and that sharing our stories connects us with each other and the world. First Person Arts supports the development of memoir and documentary work by artists from all walks of life and provides opportunities for their stories to be heard in programs throughout the year.

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