film festival
Tony Montalto, Emily Evan Rae (director), Jennifer Montalto, and Gina Hoyer attend the Fort Lauderdale Film Festival – Courtesy Tony Montalto.

By Jill Fox

Multiple movies have been made about the horrific shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, but a new film, which debuted at a local film festival, has a different focus.

Stop The Bleed is a documentary by 21-year-old Parkland native Emily Evan Rae, who has since moved to Los Angeles.

“I moved to California to do acting and directing, and it ultimately led me back home for this project,” she said.

In making the film, Rae spent more time on what took place after the mass shooting on February 14, 2018, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and its effect on those who lost their sons, daughters, and friends and spouses.

“People need to remember these victims and see that it can happen anywhere,” said Rae, “And I learned that first-hand.”

She worked on the film for almost three years, intending to tell the victims’ stories and understand who they were as people, not as victims of the shooting.

“The tragedy is about who we lost, and they were all pretty phenomenal people,” said Tony Montalto, whose daughter, Gina, was murdered in the shooting.

Rae reached out to the Montalto’s and the families of Chris Hixon, Alyssa Alhadeff, Luke Hoyer, and Joaquin Oliver for interviews.

Rae said the Montalto family was hesitant at first, which was completely understandable. “I was only 18 and a first-time director.”

Montalto felt as long as the film was going to be about the victims, as they wanted their daughter to be remembered.

Ultimately, Rae was grateful she got to know the teachers and students from the people who loved them most.

When the movie was accepted into the Fort Lauderdale Film Festival, Rae invited the families to attend.

“It was hard to watch, but overall we were pleased,” said Montalto. “It was very victim and community-centric without being political.”

The theater was set up with COVID spacing in mind and an online component.

Watching the film together, Rae felt there was an overwhelming sense of love. “It was so touching for me personally to see the families really connecting with the documentary — I’m so grateful for their trust in me.”

Now through November 22, the film is available to watch the movie here.

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Author Profile

Jill Fox
Jill Fox
Jill Fox is an Emmy Award-winning writer and producer. She has worked in public relations and television for over 20 years. Fox lives in Parkland with her husband and their two children.

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