During the course of Tim Sutton’s DARK NIGHT, a television the background airs a report on the Aurora shooter who opened fire in a cinema during a screening of THE DARK KNIGHT, killing some and wounding more. When I spoke to him by phone on February 8, 2017, I asked him why that incident, in particular, had spurred him to make his profound meditation on violence in our culture.
We went on to talk about his singular vision of filmmaking that combines element of documentary and how blending the two can achieve that either genre on its own can’t; the necessity of casting non-professionals, and two rules he gave himself in order to make a film about life, not death; choosing to be deliberately non-political, and the difference between art and entertainment.
Blending documentary style with a narrative format, DARK NIGHT contemplates violence in American culture, particularly gun violence, using as it’s starting point the Aurora massacre in which a gunman entered a cinema and opened fire on the audience. Tim Sutton’s vision as a filmmaker is as strikingly original as it is emotionally powerful as he follows several people, young and old, going about their ordinary lives. The mundane quality of small-town life mixes with an omnipresent tension just below the surface, revealed not so much in what is said, or not said, as by the psychological underpinnings of the protagonists that play out in their body language and the perceptive camera work. Sutton directed from his own script, and it stars a cast of non-professional actors. His previous work includes MEMPHIS and PAVILION.