Documentaries educate and activate communities to find solutions  

The Denver Urban Spectrum staff mourns with the rest of the community for our neighbors tragically killed by guns. We are thankful for the politicians, community activists and all who are working on laws, awareness campaigns, resources, and other solutions for reducing and preventing future gun violence.

We produce articles to expose the problem of out-of-control gun ownership and shootings, but our main focus is on positive news and proactive leaders and organizations. We emphasize solutions-oriented journalism over reporting on conflict and hopelessness.

As we bring communities together through sharing stories on the printed page and online, we also recognize the power of telling stories through film. And, at this time, when we are grieving over yet more gun deaths in Colorado, we would like to share a resource for motivating community change through film.

ROCO Films licenses documentaries for screening and discussions in community settings, such as auditoriums, classrooms, libraries, nonprofits, and businesses throughout North America. The company, based in Sausalito, Calif., “empowers anyone to become a screening host,” according to its website.

ROCO Films website proclaims: We are a group of optimists who believe that sharing stories about real people and real issues makes us stronger.

Community groups and various organizations may license the documentaries for public or private screenings. The objective is to spur constructive conversation that could lead to improved understanding, positive action and effective results.

In addition to distributing the physical copies of films, ROCO distributes through its film collection through the online Film Platform, for streaming by “authenticated students and faculty of 2,000+ university libraries worldwide. One of its most well-known film producers is Participant Media, which has a large number of Academy Award® nominations and wins.

Its documentary library is diverse featuring social topics from police brutality and college-town sexual assaults to gender equity in science professions and Asian Americans in rural towns. Five films feature investigative reporting on the epidemic of gun violence in America. The film descriptions below are provided by ROCO.

Romeo Is Bleeding by Jason Zeldes

This documentary film follows Donte Clark, a young poet in Richmond, Calif., a community that struggles with gun violence stemming from a turf war spanning across multiple generations. Donte transcends the violence in his hometown by writing poetry about his experiences. Using his voice to inspire those around him, he co—founded an arts organization called RAW Talent, where like—minded youth from both sides of Richmond mount Te’Ns Harmony, an urban adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, with the hope of starting a meaningful dialogue about violence in the city. View trailer:


The Price of Freedom by Judd Ehrlich 

The Price of Freedom exposes the hidden past of the American gun debate and reveals how the outsized political and cultural influence of the National Rifle Association divided a nation and changed the course of American history, costing countless lives along the way. View trailer:


The Armor of Light by Abigail E. Disney

The film tracks Reverend Rob Schenck, anti-abortion activist and fixture on the political far right, who breaks with orthodoxy by questioning whether being pro-gun is consistent with being pro-life. Rev. Schenck is shocked and perplexed by the reactions of his long-time friends and colleagues who warn him away from this complex, politically explosive issue. Along the way, he meets Lucy McBath, the mother of Jordan Davis, an unarmed teenager who was murdered in Florida. McBath, also a Christian, decides to work with Schenck even though she is pro-choice. View trailer:


Newtown by Kim A. Snyder

Newtown is an intimate portrait of a town in grief and recovery, introducing families immersed in a surreal fog of despair, perseverance and unthinkable strength, managing to carry on each day. Together, their intimate stories, along with those of teachers, neighbors, first responders, and clergy, reveal reverberating rings of grief, compassion, survivor guilt, and the profound desire to create meaningful change out of a tragedy that that will mark their town for generations to come. Through the lens of this horrific historic event, viewers can understand the far-reaching fallout of community trauma, and in turn, the capacity for collective compassion and resilience. View trailer:

Under the Gun by Katie Couric & Stephanie Soechtig

Though the lens of families impacted by the mass shootings in Newtown, Aurora, Isla Vista, Tucson, as well as the daily gun violence in Chicago, the film examines why politicians are refusing to act. This documentary is comprehensive and presents both sides of one of the polarizing issues that is tearing our country apart. Searing and powerful with never—before—seen footage of the shooting in Aurora, Under the Gun gives a human face to a crisis that is costing us in blood and scarring the conscience of a nation. View trailer:

Editor’s note: If your grassroots group, nonprofit or school is interested in licensing a documentary, you can learn more at