“Under the Gun,” the provocative new documentary exploring America’s gun violence, executive produced by Katie Couric and helmed by Stephanie Soechtig, had its Los Angeles premiere at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills on Tuesday. The controversial film drew celebrity attendees Danny DeVito, Louis Gossett Jr., Gene Simmons, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jason George and Glenn Howerton.
“I wanted to understand the disconnect between public opinion, which seems to think that we should enact certain measures to keep guns out of the hands of the wrong people, and what’s happening in Washington and the federal level,” said Couric.
The doc, which made its debut at Sundance, examines why action to curb gun violence has failed, despite multiple mass shootings across the country. “Under the Gun” makes its case through first-person narratives from victims of gun violence and gun owners.
“I wanted to tell the story of these families and these parents who have endured the worst thing a parent could imagine, yet they pulled themselves up and they made this a crusade and a mission to make sure that other parents aren’t sitting in the same place that they are,” said Soechtig, who also teamed with Couric for 2014’s “Fed Up.”
While the personal narratives were instrumental to “Under the Gun,” Couric and Soechtig also wanted to shed light on some of the complexities surrounding gun control.
“Ninety percent of Americans support background checks, including 74% of NRA members. That’s a huge misconception to say that there’s a debate in this country when most of us agree that we want to make sure that criminals and the mentally ill don’t have access to guns,” said Soechtig.
“We see war, guns, slaughter and refugees, but 2016 is actually a calmer, less violent time than it was in the past, but we do manufacture a lot of guns and it’s very difficult for people to give up their livelihood,” DeVito stated.
Meanwhile, Sophie Simmons called for more gun regulation.
“Just the fact that there’s no background checks, there’s no fingerprinting and there’s no regulation on how many guns or ammunition you can own is absurd to me,” Simmons said. “We (Gene Simmons) agree that you should, if you wish, be able to have a gun in your home to protect your family, but when it becomes public — to the streets and schools — that’s a different issue.”
Indiewire and Variety editor Michael Schneider moderated a panel discussion after the screening, which was followed by a reception. Panelist included Couric; Sandy Phillips, the mother of an Aurora Colorado victim; Zach Silk, campaign manager for the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility; Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action; and Dan Gross, president of The Brady Campaign.
Epix president and CEO Mark Greenberg said that Couric and Soechtig’s findings will help prompt a debate that needs to be discussed. The premium network acquired “Under the Gun” in February.
“We’ll never deal with it in its entirety, but I think they’ve put this out there so both sides have a forum to have that conversation,” added Greenberg. “We think it’s our responsibility to put that kind of programming in our documentary presentations.”
“Under the Gun” makes its world television premiere on Epix and across all Epix platforms on May 15 at 8pm ET/PT, 7C during the Epix free preview weekend (May 12-15).