Alumna’s documentary revisits tragic shooting on UT Austin campus
On Aug. 1, 1966, at 11:48 a.m., the campus of The University of Texas at Austin changed forever. For 96 minutes, Charles Whitman opened fire from the UT Tower, killing 16 people and wounding over three dozen others.
“Tower,” a documentary directed by Keith Maitland and produced by Radio-Television-Film alumna Megan Gilbride (M.F.A. ’04), recounts the tragic events of that day from the perspective of witnesses, victims and reporters.
*Update: The film is on the nominations shortlist for Best Documentary Feature for the 89th Academy Awards. Oscar nominations are scheduled to be announced on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017.
Based on "96 Minutes,” an article by Pamela Colloff that ran in Texas Monthly in 2006, the film splices animated scenes with archived audio and film footage which came almost entirely from material Radio-Television-Film Associate Professor Caroline Frick researched, collected and organized. The film is also co-produced by the Texas Archive of the Moving Image, of which Frick is founder and executive director. The film uses rotoscopic animation, a technique that involves tracing footage by hand.
“Tower” focuses on survivors and where they are today – including many who tell their stories for the first time.
Gilbride is an Emmy-winning producer of narrative and documentary films. She has produced documentaries including “Lovers of Hate,” a Sundance U.S. Dramatic Competition premiere, released by IFC and nominated for a FIND Spirit Award.
“Tower” was featured at the 2016 SXSW Film Festival, where it won the audience award and grad jury prize for best documentary. It has been highlighted in reviews in The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly and on the Today Show.
On Oct. 11, New York City’s Paramount Building froze its three clocks at 11:48 a.m. in honor of the victims of the shooting and to commemorate the New York Film Forum release of the film.