TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL 2021 REVIEW! Judd Ehrlich’s The Price of Freedom joins the writer-director’s growing library of films that probe the American psyche of issues that divide people and possibly bring them together. Finding a flicker of light at a seemingly endless tunnel of despair, the documentary looks at America’s ugliest wart — gun violence. Ehrlich also examines The Second Amendment and its ardent supporters, such as the NRA (National Rifle Association), who only view it through its literal meaning as the forefathers wrote in 1791. Desperate for gun control are the families, loved ones, and communities of every school and mass shooting in America.
The film aims to expose divisions within the NRA card-carrying members and the rise of gun violence from the end of the 20th century until now, leading to a movement to enforce laws preventing men and women from owning guns, especially criminals and the mentally ill. Through well-researched events, policies, and studies of the NRA, gun culture, and several U.S. administrations’ inability to enforce major gun laws for almost 40 years, we are led down a harrowing odyssey of obsession and heartbreak. With an array of experts and policymakers, including former President Bill Clinton, weighing in on the gun violence issue, it would seem as if history has not done much to protect people from gun violence. Yet, the ability to buy weapons, including assault weapons meant for war, is easily accessed and plentiful.
“…aims to expose divisions within the NRA card-carrying members and the rise of gun violence…”
Repeated more than once throughout The Price of Freedom is the fact that “people in the U.S. are 25 times more likely to die by gun violence than any other developed nation in the world.” Using this scary statistic, the director begs one question to NRA officials: how can this be stopped? It becomes very clear that the NRA has voting power and its members vote, hence Trump’s victory over Hilary Clinton and people’s fear of the organization, especially when militias carry assault weapons at peaceful protests.
The idea of the right to bear arms seems to fall short when those who have lost loved ones to gun violence ask why there isn’t a right to live. Ehrlich presents a very comprehensive timeline of gun violence, starting with the high-profile assassinations of JFK, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King going to the Parkland School mass gun shooting. Do political movements threaten white men? In 1977 the NRA went through a restructuring that is very much in action today, which is convincing fellow Americans that owning a gun is patriotic and to remove this freedom would be to debilitate the lives of U.S. citizens. It’s an American way to own a firearm.
However, what makes The Price of Freedom a film that should be on your must-see list is the way Ehrlich presents all of this. The gravity and tragedy of each shooting examined are intensely felt. While the subject matter is heavy, by looking at the grassroots movements that have cropped up to fight against this injustice, the director offers a glimmer of hope that change is possible. He moves through all of the interviews and probing dive into American politics with grace, so the timelines and how things have changed, for better and worse, are always at the forefront.
The Price of Freedom premiered at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival.
"…should be on your must-see list..."