Dan Bruun is a documentary filmmaker from Davis, CA. He has produced films in New York, Jamaica, and England, but is currently working on a film project in his hometown about a hate crime that occurred last year, called Davisville 2013. Watch the trailer here.
On March 10, 2013, a 19-year-old man brutally assaulted Mikey Partida, a beloved member of the community of Davis, CA. The attacker used many gay slurs before, during, and after the 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 liberal Davis community. People immediately 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 to help the victim and his family, even something as simple as expressing their disgust for this horrific act to show that this behavior was not tolerated in the town we call home. Community members organized a candlelight vigil in the local Central Park, while students at the University of California Davis coordinated their own gathering on campus to honor Partida.
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.” 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, and 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.”
For example, Mikey Partida’s mother, Gloria, started an organization called the Davis Phoenix Coalition in the wake of the assault on her son, a local branch of Not In Our Town. The organization is working to promote a culture in our town where everyone is safe and free from violence. I am privileged to have been able to document her journey over the past year and a half.
It is my hope that my film Davisville 2013 will allow people to step into the shoes of those that experienced this horrific event and to learn from the story. 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.
Please have a look at the trailer for the film Davisville 2013 here. I am currently raising funds to complete the project. It is my hope that with the help of your contributions, this one small town story will be able to reach and affect people around the country.