DENVER – It’s been nearly five years since the Aurora Theater Massacre, and a film loosely based on the shooting is premiering in Colorado this weekend – sparking controversy and a mix of reactions from the public who believe it’s too soon to relive the tragedy.
“It was not meant to be any kind of incendiary film or a hurtful film at all,” Dark Night director Tim Sutton told Denver7. “What I really wanted to do was make a movie about people’s lives in the face of tragedy – not about death, not about violence.”
Sutton’s film is not a retelling of the events at the Century 16 theater in Aurora more than four years ago.
The movie is purely fictional and actors are not playing anyone affected by the tragedy, but there is no escaping the fact that the movie feels too close to home: The title, a character who dyes his hair orange and the setting – a movie theater.
The movie is, "meant to be a living document that’s [not only] about Aurora but about all these acts of gun violence at the same time,” Sutton told Denver7.
But the film, which drew praise at the 2016 Sun Dance Film Festival, has also garnered criticism from many people across Colorado.
A family member of one of the theater shooting victims called the film “exploitation” and said if the director really cared about gun violence in America, he would not have created the film.
“To anyone who is touched or affected by the violence in Aurora or any other act of gun violence in the country… if this movie hurts them in anyway, then I apologize deeply from the bottom of my heart,” Sutton said.
The director added that when he created the film, he didn’t want to sensationalize the pain felt by the many families touched by the shooting, but instead wanted to add another voice – a human perspective to the horror experienced that fateful night.
“I think this film is the type of film that challenges audiences and gets the conversation going in a different direction – makes you feel deeply about the people who lost their lives or could lose their lives at any time in America right now,” Sutton said.
The Alamo Drafthouse in Littleton will show the film for one night only on Friday, Feb. 24, at 7:30 p.m. It will not be shown at any other theater in Colorado.