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American Tragedy

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Catalogue Number:  TVP081
Producer:  Video Project, Inc.
Producing Agencies:  Boldrush LLC
Subject:  American History, Criminal Justice & Law, Documentary, Guidance, Health, Psychology, Social Issues, Social Sciences, Sociology
Language:  English
Grade Level:  9 - 12, Post Secondary, Adult
Country Of Origin:  United States
Copyright Year:  2020
Running Time:  78:44

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A mother grapples to understand how her son became a school shooter and what it would take to prevent the next shooting.

April 20, 1999 Columbine High School came under attack by two of its own students: Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. In a new documentary, Sue Klebold (Dylan’s mother) attempts to understand how her son became one of the most notorious school shooters in history.

After Columbine, Sue was hated across America. She was caricatured as an unloving, aloof, and absent parent. Yet Sue describes a happy family full of fun, laughter, and love. “If love could have stopped Columbine,” she says, “Columbine would never have happened.”

To understand what took place, Sue has scoured her past, reconciling the son she knew with the monster she didn’t. She has met with leading experts and gained insight among other suicide loss survivors. She has come to better understand what took place at Columbine. It was not a rare sensational event but a particularly gruesome appendage to a much larger and more prevalent problem.

Sue’s is an invaluable story that forces us to reconceptualize what prevention should look like, to rethink what it will take to stop the next American tragedy.


Boston Film Festival, Best Documentary
Atlanta Docufest
Pittsburgh Independent Film Festival
Boston Film Festival
Heartland International Film Festival


"People don't want to feel that compassion for Sue. They want to blame her, but the ability to use a documentary to help develop compassion, for people to empathize with what Sue went through, I think that is incredibly important." — Matthew Mishkind, Deputy Director, Johnson Depression Center, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

"I was transfixed. I couldn't believe 80 minutes went by. It's excellent and so important." — Jen Lambert, RN / VA Case Manager
"Being the adoptive parent of troubled kids and a loved one of two victims of suicide, I know all too well how critical it is to have mental health care and intervention early, while it is still treatable, and applaud this effort to heighten awareness." — Deb Atkinson, Senior Administrative Assistant, Kutak Rock


FILMMAKER'S STATEMENT: "I think Sue's story is particularly interesting on this point, because she was completely surprised. She was as surprised as the rest of us. She's gone through her past, she's talked about going through every possible interaction she remembers, trying to find something and she has discovered some things. She discovered her son was depressed - she didn't know that. Maybe what's so surprising is that there wasn't something obvious, there weren't these obvious signs that she should have spotted. So the question of the documentary becomes how do you stop something that's so invisible so often?"
- Josh Sabey

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