Pulse Shooting Remembered In Award-Winning Short Film ‘First They Came’

From the award-winning short film, 'First They Came'
From the award-winning short film, ‘First They Came’

Check out this moving short film that weaves images of mass shootings (including the deadly massacre at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida) with Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” and the Martin Niemöller poem, “First They Came.”

The film earned 16-year-old filmmaker Odessa Shlain Goldberg the top honor in this year’s Our Pride Video Fest competition.

The competition asks student filmmakers in schools and colleges to create and share digital stories about significant LGBTQ+ people, places and events that have shaped our world and are impacting the future.

Goldberg was inspired by Niemöller’s poem which addresses complicity and passivity during the Holocaust. It reads:

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out – 
Because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out –
Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out –
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.

Goldberg’s film updates the text as a meditation on the victims of deadly gun violence in recent U.S. history.

“The film illustrates how passivity in the face of injustice is complicity during World War II, but instead reframes and rewrites the 1946 poem to focus on the prolific, devastating shootings in schools and public institutions,” said Odessa, a high school student in Mill Valley, California.

She shares that, while the Niemöller poem spoke from an outsider’s perspective, the many incidences of gun violence in the U.S. affected her on multiple levels.

“I felt it as a high schooler after Parkland, I felt it during the Pulse Orlando shooting as an ally of the LGTBQ+ community,” she recently told Gay Star News. “I felt it as a Jew after the Tree of Life shooting.”

“One of the horrific shootings commemorated is the Pulse Nightclub shooting in 2016 targeting the LGBTQ+ community,” added the young filmmaker. “The final call to action of the video reminds the viewer to take action against gun violence by voting.”

Watch the 3 minute short below, and for more info about the Our Pride Video Fest click here.

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