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Arts & Culture

INDEPENDENT LENS: Tower

Graphic: A stranger rushes to help Claire after she has been shot.
Courtesy of TOWER Documentary LLC
Graphic: A stranger rushes to help Claire after she has been shot.

Airs Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017 at 10 p.m. on KPBS TV

Explore the deadly 1966 mass shooting at the University of Texas through interviews with survivors.

On Aug. 1, 1966, a sniper rode the elevator to the top floor of the University of Texas Tower and opened fire, holding the campus hostage for 96 minutes. When the gunshots were finally silenced, the toll included 16 dead, three dozen wounded and a shaken nation left trying to understand.

Combining archival footage with rotoscopic animation in a dynamic, never-before-seen way, "Tower" reveals the action-packed, untold stories of the witnesses, heroes and survivors of America’s first mass school shooting, when the worst in one man brought out the best in so many others.

Pregnant Freshman Recalls the Moment She Was Shot

"In this excerpt from Independent Lens documentary TOWER

The film explores this untold history through the first-person stories of seven specific characters: two students who were shot, the two police officers who ended the siege, two civilians who provided aid to victims and police, and the radio reporter who broadcast live from the scene for more than an hour and a half and whose broadcast was picked up nationally, bringing the events in Austin to listeners around the nation.

Graphic: Neal Spelce reporting from the scene. University of Texas.
Courtesy of TOWER Documentary LLC
Graphic: Neal Spelce reporting from the scene. University of Texas.

Seamlessly slipping from character to character, "Tower" unfolds as a moment-by-moment re-telling of the events of the day, highlighting the fear, confusion and visceral realities of the shooting rampage. After the gunfire subsides, the story shifts to examine the immediate aftermath for these individuals and for society.

Finally, "Tower" steps out of the shadow of history to reveal the subjects as they are in the present day, exploring the legacy of the shooting through the eyes of the survivors.

“Four years ago when Keith approached INDEPENDENT LENS with this project, the topic of gun violence was preeminent. Unfortunately, that has become even more true in the years since we funded 'Tower,'” said Lois Vossen, INDEPENDENT LENS executive producer. “Keith’s approach — weaving extraordinary animation with previously unseen archival footage — offers a new way for audiences to look at the immediate and long-term impact on survivors.”

Officer Martinez Makes It to the Tower

"In this excerpt from Independent Lens documentary TOWER

WATCH ON YOUR SCHEDULE:

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JOIN THE CONVERSATION:

INDEPENDENT LENS is on Facebook, Instagram, and you can follow @IndependentLens on Twitter. #IndieLens. #TowerPBS

CREDITS:

Director/Producer/Editor is Keith Maitland. Producers are Susan Thomson and Megan Gilbride. Coordinating Producer is Hillary Pierce. Executive Producers ares Luke Wilson, Meredith Vieira, Steve Eckelman, Amy Rapp and Pamela Colloff.