By Monteque Pope-Le Beau
The story of “American Morning” takes place in the present as it take us on a on a journey through Connor Mathis (Stephen Dexter) tragic experience. A small-town elementary school music teacher who survived a mass shooting at his elementary school that killed 27 children which happened two years ago. In today’s continuing debate about the gun control of assault rifles and tougher gun laws versus the second second amendment the first scene in American Morning” leaves one thinking why are we even debating this.
Connor has since quit teaching and moved back in with his father Dale Emmy Award winner Richard Schiff (“The West Wing”, “The Good Doctor”, “Ballers”). Now Connor has decided to take drastic measures to bring awareness to how easy it is to obtain an assault rifle for deadly purposes and finally maybe fine the peace he so desperately seeks. Connor is not the same man which is masterfully portrayed by Stephen Dexter. The raw emotions of his survivors guilt and post traumatic stress is beyond moving and heartbreaking. Connor’s father Dale knows that there is something wrong with his son as he tries to scratch beyond the surface to find his son and the truth. Dale shows how parents seem to know when something is wrong. He tries his best to reach his son to no avail. The character of Dale could have only been played by Richard Schiff’ who gives a brilliant performance! It is his silence that speaks so well to a father’s heartbreak of knowing intuitively he is going to loose his son and there is nothing he could do.
Directed by Robbie Bryan and written by Stephen Dexter “American Morning” tells the story of the continuous American tragedies. It is the pot of water a frog is sitting in that slowly starts to boil. It is subtle in it’s approach, but it has a very powerful impact.This is a film that everyone should see and start a dialogue about how to better protect their communities against gun violence. Some times change does not come from the top, but at the grass roots level. Let “American Morning” be the start of that change.
“American Morning” was selected for the 2021 Dances With Films Festival , and showed at the Oscar-qualifying Rhode Island International Film Festival in Newport. It was also one of the Official Selections at the Oldenburg Film Festival. “American Morning” was nominated for and won Best Short Film at the 2021 Oldenburg Film Festival.