Harlem International Film Festival 2020 review: short film ‘Generation Lockdown’ will break you

GENERATION LOCKDOWN is a narrative short film, seen through the eyes of an eleven year old boy as he tries to save his friend’s life during an active shooter attack in his school.

This film is based on a short story by Caleb, a 6th grader from a public school in Teaneck, NJ.

If you aren’t crying by 6 minutes in, perhaps you’ve become numb to the reality of so many kids and parents. I was a senior in high school when Columbine happened. I watched it live while on spring break with my family. Two weeks later, I was in a lockdown of my own in the cafeteria of my own school, unknowing that it was only a drill. Now, I am the other of two young children. In the first year of school for my son, we received an email explaining that they would be doing a school shooter drill. He was 2 at the time. I can remember the terror I felt at 18, I could not have imagined my kids, now 3 and 4, having to run these drills on a regular basis, 22 years later.

The film itself is stunning. The look is bright and relatable to a child’s perspective. As a former teacher, it had a familiarity to it that a lot of films centering around children do not. The morning after I viewed the film, I’m still emotionally drained but feel an inherent need to speak about it. The climax is poignant both in storytelling and in visual impact. The editing is like a punch in the gut. I was not expecting it. For a short film, Generation Lockdown makes a massive impact. It’s something that deserves a primetime viewing slot for its artistic and political effectiveness. This short serves as a not just a conversation starter, but a continuation for a movement. Seek it out.

About Liz Whittemore

Liz grew up in northern Connecticut and was memorizing movie dialogue from Shirley Temple to A Nightmare on Elm Street at a very early age. She will watch just about any film all the way through (no matter how bad) just to prove a point. A loyal New Englander, a lover of Hollywood, and true inhabitant of The Big Apple.