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    • David Lacy

      Columnist and iPinion co-founder
    • August 14, 2014 in News

    Independent filmmaker shares ‘the story of a small California town, dealing with a horrific event, in the year 2013’

    As a writer and a teacher, I applaud those individuals who are willing to take a notebook or a laptop or a camera and set about probing the darker recesses of the human experience. This can be a daunting task that requires an exceptional level of critical examination of a subject or event.

    But the takeaway from these inspections often provides us with a new, or at least more nuanced, understanding of the human condition.

    I believe documentary filmmaker and Davis, California native Dan Bruun employs this level of critical examination in his upcoming project Davisville 2013. For that reason, I reached out to Dan and offered him some space here at iPinion to discuss his film.

    These are his words, not mine, and yet as a fellow Davis native I can attest that these are also the words and thoughts of tens of thousands of others (friends, family members, neighbors), and I would be thrilled to see as many media platforms as possible sharing them with the world. Dan has his camera. I have my laptop.

    Let’s use these tools to share stories.

    Let’s use these tools to explore. — David Lacy


    by Dan Bruun

    On March 10, 2013, a 32-year-old beloved member of the community of Davis, California was brutally assaulted by another lifelong Davisite, a 19-year-old son of two prominent doctors.  The attacker used gay slurs before, during and after the brutal assault, which left the victim with several skull fractures, bleeding inside the brain and both eyes swollen shut.

    This disturbing event created a rush of energy within the Davis community. People began sharing the news on social media and feelings of shock, anger and sadness spread throughout our small college town. Many people wanted to do something, whether that something was to help the victim and his family or just to express their sentiment that this horrific act was not acceptable in the town they call home.  A candlelight vigil was organized by community members in central park and University of California, Davis students organized their own gathering on the campus.

    There were others who felt anger and murmured about taking justice into their own hands.

    I was certainly a person who felt the need to do something.  As a documentary filmmaker, it seemed that documenting the story could be my “something.” I picked up my camera and contacted my first witness for an interview.  I made this decision against my better judgment.  Independent documentary filmmaking is in many important respects an irresponsible undertaking. It costs plenty of money though it generates none. The process is also emotionally absorbing and extremely time-consuming.

    So there I was, on my first day of filming, following a witness around the crime scene with my camera and beginning to feel the gravitational pull that would quickly lead this story to take over my life.  Despite all its great challenges, there is a magic to the documentary process.  I believe this magic is rooted in the empathetic relationships that inevitably ensue.  The documentary process allows the filmmaker to come close to walking in someone else’s shoes, to experience the world through his or her eyes. It is the hope and goal that the audience is let in on this experience.

    It has been over 16 months since the brutal assault of Mikey Partida. That initial surge of energy that pervaded the Davis community has long since dissipated.  The criminal case has worked its way through the justice system and the story no longer appears in the local newspaper headlines.  There are some of us, however, who are still working on our “something.”   It is my hope that my film “Davisville 2013” will allow people to experience this story through the eyes of those who lived through it.   I also quietly hope that the film will inspire others to make the irresponsible decision to pick up a camera and document when they get that rush of energy to do something.


    For more information on Davisville 2013, and to view an extended trailer, visit: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/davisville-2013-a-documentary-film.

    Filmmaker Dan Bruun with assault victim Mikey Partida (right).

    Filmmaker Dan Bruun (right) with assault victim Mikey Partida (left).

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