Midsummer in Newtown is the inspiring new film from acclaimed documentarian Lloyd Kramer and The Documentary Group that paints the most intimate of portraits of a New England town as its citizens deploy the power of art to push beyond one of the greatest tragedies in American history.
In the aftermath of 2012’s Sandy Hook tragedy, Kramer learned that a group of artists from New York were traveling to Newtown to work with kids from the local school system to mount an adaptation of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
Realizing the potential of the story to investigate the power of art in facing tragedy, he set out to follow the journey of kids curiously exploring Shakespeare’s language for the first time, bringing their own unique personalities to the text, and calling on their inner strength to band together and heal.
Many of the students in the production were in school on that horrible day in 2012. Some lost a friend or a neighbor, all had their lives forever altered. With a focus on process, Midsummer in Newtown explores how these children connect with art and each other as they bring the play to life – and emerge from the trauma – day by day.
As Shakespeare’s words take hold with the young cast, the filmmakers also follow the lives of Jimmy Greene and Nelba Márquez-Greene, whose six-year-old daughter Ana was one of the victims of the shooting. Jimmy, an acclaimed jazz saxophonist, also seeks refuge in the arts, pouring his heartache into composing a tribute album for his daughter.
Nelba, a marriage and family therapist, courageously dedicates herself to crisis prevention, working with schools to recognize children in trouble before another tragedy occurs.
Together, the couple mounts an emotional musical performance that honors Ana’s joyous, exuberant spirit.