A Girl and A Gun

girl and a gunFrench New Wave movie director Jean Luc Godard famously once said that all one needs to make a movie is a girl and a gun.  Documentary filmmaker Cathryne Czubek has taken Godard’s advice to heart in her thought provoking new documentary, appropriately titled, “A Girl and A Gun.”   The film is an impeccably researched and fascinating journey into the sub culture of women and guns in America.

Czubek appeared following a screening of “A Girl and A Gun” that I attended, on July 5, at the Quad Cinema, 34 West 13 Street.  She talked about the process of making the documentary which involved her traveling across the country and meeting women who, for a variety of reasons, are all part of the female gun sub culture.

While guns have been associated with men and masculinity, “A Girl and  A Gun” raises the question, “What are we to think of a woman with a gun?”   The questions, answers and assumptions are many.  Is it about Depression era outlaws like Bonnie Parker or Ma Barker?  Is it the classic story about a woman needing a gun because she is a victim?  Conversely, the documentary observes, gun carrying frontier women are part of American history. An interviewee points out that, “A woman with a gun takes us away from our pre-conceptions.  Who is this woman?  What is she about?”  Is it about equality?  Well, the point is made that a gun will not get you day care and equal pay.  Protection?  An interviewee explains that the police do not appear until after a bad thing happens.  “I can shoot him dead, but I cannot taser him,” a gun toting woman says explaining what, to her, seems like a gap in logic in local gun laws that allow for self-defense.

We are shown how the gun industry markets to women, in part by exploiting the relationship between fear and profits.  Pink firearms are a big draw.

The reasons why the film’s subjects are drawn to guns are many.  For some it is about exploring areas of power that have been off limits to them, yet, at the same time one lady gun enthusiast allows, “I don’t feel any different about the gun than I would a food processor.”

While the film is largely gun positive Czubek has the objectivity to show us the down side. We meet prison inmate Karen Copeland who was abused by her father and is in jail for shooting, and killing, her roommate.  Chrissy Springer’s brother was killed in a hunting accident and yet Springer remains  a hunting enthusiast.  For another woman it is about bonding with her father.

Probably the most amazing story is that of Oklahoma woman Sarah McKinley.   McKinley, an 18-year-old new mom, whose husband had just died of cancer, shot and killed an intruder after having the presence of mind to call 911 and ask if it was OK to fire.  Czubek interviews McKinley who lives on a large piece of land and carries her baby in one arm while holding a gun in the other concerned about protecting her baby from another intrusion.

“A Girl and A Gun” is currently available on pay per view and iTunes.

A Girl and A Gun, Director Cathryne Czubek, 2013,

75 minutes, not rated


About unpaidfilmcritic

Up until 2009 Seth Shire spent nearly two decades in the New York film industry as a post production supervisor of feature films. Highlights include working on the films of Martin Scorsese, James Toback and Spike Lee. Since leaving the film industry Seth has expanded into new and varied areas where he has found a great deal of satisfaction. Seth currently teaches in the Sociology Department of CUNY Queens College. His courses include "Mass Media and Popular Culture," "Introduction to Sociology," and "Sociology of Cinema" where he is a very popular teacher. Seth is also the film critic for "Town & Village," a Manhattan weekly newspaper, a position he has held for the past six years. Seth gives back to his community through volunteer teaching at Manhattan's "The Caring Community," a center for senior citizens, where he teaches a very popular course on documentaries called "The Golden Age of the Documentary. In the fall of 2010 Seth taught "Critical Reading and Writing" at Parsons School of Design. He has also taught "Cinema Studies" at the New York Film Academy. Seth lives in Stuyvesant Town, in Manhattan.

Posted on July 20, 2013, in Documentary and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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