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New Documentary Explores ‘Gunland’

"Gunland," the new documentary from Moguldum Studios explores gun violence in Chicago.
Photo courtesy of Moguldom Studios

We’ve all seen the headlines and heard the nicknames: Another shooting in Chiraq.

They’re easy to ignore, which is exactly why Moguldum Studios is raising awareness about gun violence in Chicago through a new documentary called Gunland.

Not to be confused with CNN’s Chicagoland, Moguldom’s documentary explores the question “Why Chicago?” through interviews with gang members, activists and family members of victims to gun violence.

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“It’s been a headline in the news cycle for a long time,” says Barion Grant, EVP of Moguldom Studios. “Our approach is to go beyond the 24-hour news cycle and statistics and have a conversation about what’s going on in our community. That’s definitely affected the way we approached the film. The subject matter is already out there, but not from the on-the-ground perspective. We’re looking primarily at how Black youth is affected.”

Filming for the documentary took place last year and touches on the Windy City’s drug cartel. According to the official website for Gunland, “Chicago sits directly in the cross hairs of a $30 billion dollar drug trade. Half of all narcotics that enter the U.S. from Mexico can be traced back to the Sinaloa Cartel whose leader, “Jaoquin “El Chapo” Guzman calls Chicago his home.”

“We talk about the relationship between guns and drugs and how it’s a cycle,” Grant says. “We tried to offer something new by asking a lot of questions: Who’s to blame? Are we doing enough? Should religious organizations jump in to help? We also ask about personal responsibility within our own families and communities.”

More than anything, Grant wants the documentary, which is scheduled for release on iTunes on Google Play this month, to act as a “conversation piece” and spark activism.

“Docutainment is about taking the documentary genre to a new level and reaching a broader audience of African Americans to prove we’re not just interested in entertainment,” says Grant. “We’ve covering a lot of stories that are simultaneously educational and entertaining.”

One such example is the studio’s first documentary, A Genius Leaves the Hood: The Unauthorized Story of Jay Z. The biographical film, which debuted in March, ranks among the best-selling documentaries in both the iTunes store and Google Play. Moguldom Studios has more than a dozen documentaries slated for release this year.

“We’re really riding the wave of technology and taking advantage of new distribution opps,” explains Grant. “It was really an experiment, but it’s paying off for us. When Netflix launched, it was an experiment. The experiment is to see how we can engage our readers on social media and online. We’re pleasantly surprised.”

Check out the trailer for Gunland below and click HERE for more information about the documentary: