SXSW Film 2016 Review: TOWER

By Mark Saldana 

Rating: 4 (Out of 4 Stars) 

Most Austin residents and University of Texas alumni know the story, some of the facts, and may have heard the urban legends.  However, not too many people have listened to the very personal accounts from the people who experienced that terrifying day when Charles Whitman went to the top of the U.T. tower and started shooting at random people.  On August 1, 1966, Whitman killed sixteen people and wounded over three dozen in America’s first school mass shooting, shocking the nation and world.

Director Keith Maitland’s Tower gets in depth and personal with the people who lived to tell their stories about that infamous day.  Not only do Maitland and the people featured in his film bring a real and genuine humanity to a day known for its inhumanity, he and his crew show some true ingenuity by combining an animated dramatization of the story with archival footage and interviews with the survivors and the heroes who helped save others and stopped Whitman from harming anyone else.

Tower not only won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary Feature, it also won the Audience Award for the same category.  I must completely agree with these votes.  Tower is not only the best documentary film I saw at the festival, it is my favorite film overall.  It is a movie that will have people tense and frightened as they witness the peril, and will leave its audiences in tears as they feel the real emotions experienced during that horrendous ordeal.

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