‘When Claude Got Shot’ explores complexity of gun violence in Milwaukee

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MILWAUKEE — “When Claude Got Shot” premiered at South by Southwest earlier this year, now it’s one of the films featured in the Milwaukee Film Festival, which runs until May 20.

“The reason I wanted to tell the story we tell in ‘When Claude Got Shot’ is primarily to really humanize gun violence,” said Director Brad Lichtenstein.

The movie explores the complexity of gun violence and the ripple effect it has on the Milwaukee community. The film focuses on Claude Motley, who was shot near 68th and Capitol in 2014.

Motley is from Milwaukee, but moved with his family to Charlotte prior to being shot. The move was partially a way to get away from the gun violence in the city. But it was on a trip back to Milwaukee for a reunion when Claude got shot.

He was shot by then-teenager Nathan King in an attempted carjacking. King was shot just a few days later when he was part of an attempted robbery.

The movie not only explores the ripple effect the shooting has had on Motley’s life from more than a dozen surgeries, postponing his career and endless medical bills, but it also looks at the impact on King and his family.

“It’s understanding that there are victims on both sides of the gun,” said Lichtenstein. “One shot affects you for the rest of your life, it affects the shooter for the rest of his or her life, and it affects families and friends. And ultimately you multiply that by all the gunshots that happen in our city, not just people who died but also people who are wounded. And the think about the cost of that in terms of money, in terms of heartache, in terms of trauma. I mean we really have an epidemic that we have to solve.”

Motley hopes that by sharing his story in the film, it will bring more attention to the root causes of violence and ultimately change will come.

“Everybody I know wakes up every morning and has a level of PTSD from all the racial strife, and the segregation and all the inequality that goes on. Pick up a gun is the end result of frustration and anger,” Motley said.

Throughout the film, viewers will see Motley and King develop somewhat of a relationship through the criminal justice system.

Motley said he wants the film to leave people with a sense of hope.

“Hope that there are things we can do. Getting in these kids’ lives, giving ourselves our confidence and our pride back and things like that is definitely what I hope this film can do,” Motley said.

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