Door County Compass (1st)

New Moon Productions |


Award Winning Milwaukee filmmaker brings works on gun violence to Compass Coffeehouse

March 23, 2005

Staff Report

Door County Compass

FISH CREEK, WI – On an average day in the United States, guns are used to kill almost eighty people, and to wound nearly three hundred more. Since 1980 more men, women, and children have been killed by gunfire in the United States than US servicemen and women killed during battle in all of the wars dating from the Revolutionary War to the present.

“If any other consumer product had this sort of disastrous effect, the public outcry would be deafening,” says Harvard Professor of Health Policy, David Hemenway. “Yet when it comes to guns, such facts are accepted as a natural consequence of supposedly high American rates of violence.”

Milwaukee filmmaker and media activist Janet Fitch responded to the ongoing wave of gun violence with an idea – create a documentary film that would generate community discussion. That seed sprouted into “Guns, Grief and Grace in America,” a trilogy project co-produced with Brad Pruitt, that is now generating tremendous community support, dialogue and winning international attention.

The Compass Coffeehouse in Fish Creek has taken on a similar mission hosting an ongoing series of films each Saturday to stimulate dialogue and community awareness. “Dear Rita,” the first film in Janet Fitch’s trilogy on gun violence will be shown on Saturday, March 26 at 6:30 PM.

Fitch presents the story of Cynthia Martinez and her family, living in Milwaukee and losing their 11-year-old daughter Rita to a stray bullet. The loss galvanized Martinez to take an active role in the Million Mom March in 2000.

“At a time when we may become numb by yet another killing it is hoped that the intimate, honest and emotional testimony of this film galvanizes the Door community to respond to gun violence in a new way,” says Compass film coordinator Steve Kastner.

Filmmaker Janet Fitch sides with an increasing number of groups like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Harvard School of Public Health, a flood of public health officials, medical associations, hospitals, and universities that are looking at the issue of gun violence as a public health crisis.

Harvard Professor David Hemenway, who also serves as director of the university’s Injury Control Research Center is one of many public health experts that believe we should be emphasizing prevention over punishment regarding gun violence. His recently published book, “Private Guns, Public Health,” promotes applying the same type of public-health approach that has been so successful in reducing the rates of injury and death from infectious disease, car accidents, and smoking to the national epidemic of gun violence.

Fitch recently worked with the Medical College of Wisconsin in hosting a “Partners in Prevention” event and is planning another collaboration with another prominent medical center in Wisconsin to seek possible “cures” for gun violence by sharing information with practitioners, medical students and the public.

“Americans need to discover again their individual and collective political voice on critical issues,” says Fitch. “Dear Rita wakes us up and compels us to needed civic engagement relative to gun violence.”On April 2 at 6:30 PM Janet Fitch will bring her second work in the trilogy to Fish Creek in person. “The Promise of America,” her documentary on the Million Mom March will be shown at the Coffeehouse followed by a discussion with the filmmaker. The final film in the series, “The Right to Bear Arms: One State’s Perspectives” is currently in post-production.

Janet’s company, New Moon Productions was established in response to the local and national interest surrounding her first documentary: “Through One City’s Eyes: Race Relations In America’s Heartland,”which examined the topic of race relations in Milwaukee from the riots of the sixties to the present. In 2003 Janet Fitch was voted Best Local Activist by the Sheperd Express Newspaper in their annual “Best of Milwaukee” poll.

Saturday, April 9 the Compass Coffeehouse features the work of Philadelphia filmmaker, Bernadine Mellis. “The Forest for the Trees: Judi Bari v. the FBI” is the story of Earth First! organizer Judi Bari whose car was bombed in 1990. Within three hours of the bombing, Bari was accused of transporting the explosives that had nearly killed her. Still in the hospital, she was arrested, and labeled a terrorist in the national media. “The Forest for the Trees” is a documentary film made by the daughter of the attorney who successfully defended Judi Bari in a civil suit against the FBI that few believed she could win.

Located in unit B-18 of the Top of the Hill Shops at the north end of Fish Creek, the Compass Coffeehouse is open daily the year ’round and features all Fair Trade and Organic coffee, tea, chocolate and an Internet Café with high speed cable and wifi access. Find a detailed map and further information on-line.


  • The U.S. has the highest rate of overall gun death for children less than 15 years of age, as compared to the rate for 25 other industrialized countries combined.
  • Most gun-owning families store guns loaded, unlocked or both.
  • The estimated cost of gunshot wounds annually is $112 billion in the
    United States and approximately 49% of the costs of gun-related injuries and deaths are paid for by the public.

The Violence Policy Center

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