In the months that Abigail Disney has been screening “The Armor of Light” at film festivals and before faith groups, the unfortunate reality is that the frequency of mass shootings makes her project all the more urgent.
The documentary, which opened in theaters this weekend, focuses on the debate over gun violence, with one of its central figures the Rev. Rob Schenck, an evangelical leader who struggles to reconcile his longtime pro-life position with the pro-gun rights position of the National Rifle Assn.
While Disney tells Variety’s “PopPolitics” that she is “ashamed to say” that there will probably be one or more mass shootings in the next month, given the statistics, “we are at a point where we have to act.”
She says that she is “incredibly optimistic” that the dynamics of the debate are changing, pointing to the fact that Democratic presidential candidates are trumpeting their low scores from the NRA, whereas in the past they would have tried to avoid the topic. But she also hopes that it helps provoke conversation that gets both sides out of their lockstep.
She says that the movie “is an appeal to conscience, and every once in a while … you can slice through a lot of resistance by just pinging someone at the center of their conscience.”
Schenck, pictured above, stresses how he looks at the issue “theologically, morally and ethically,” as opposed to politically, whereas in the past he kind of “compartmentalized” his concerns with how the gun issue conflicted with his support for the sanctity of life. In the movie, he goes to an NRA convention to further discover what he sees is an alliance between the lobbying organization and religious conservatives.
He also hopes that the language of the debate changes. The term “gun control,” he says, “is charged in my community with the fear of government overreach.” That feeling, he says, has its roots centuries ago, when religious communities were persecuted in Europe and, to an extent, in the United States.
“That memory is very deep and it is in the DNA of evangelicals,” he says. “It is a genuine fear, a genuine emotion, but we have to get past that.”
‘Our Brand Is Crisis’ and Today’s Spin Doctors
David Gordon Green, director of “Our Brand Is Crisis,” talks about whether the wizardry of political consultants is as effective today as it was in 2002. His movie, which opened this weekend, is based on the true story of a political operative sent to Bolivia to shape the campaign of a candidate who is actually not that well liked by the electorate. In the fictional version, Sandra Bullock plays the operative, “Calamity” Jane Bodine, but the movie still raises ethical questions about exporting American campaign tactics to other countries.
Holbrooke on Holbrooke
David Holbrooke talks about his movie “The Diplomat,” debuting on HBO on Monday, which is the story of his father, Richard Holbrooke. Although the movie centers on Holbrooke’s career, highlighted by his successful negotiations in the 1990s to bring peace to the Balkans, it is a very personal story of a son discovering a father who was away so often in his life.
“PopPolitics,” hosted by Variety’s Ted Johnson, airs Thursdays at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT on SiriusXM’s political channel POTUS. It also is available on demand.