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This new Netflix short shows how parents grieve after a tragedy

by Linnea Crowther

A new animated short on Netflix, “If Anything Happens I Love You,” explores a couple’s grief and resilience after their child was killed in a school shooting.

“If Anything Happens I Love You,” created by filmmakers Will McCormack and Michael Govier, is just 12 minutes long, but it packs as big an emotional punch as any feature-length film. As it begins, we watch a couple sadly and silently go about their day. As the film unfolds, we realize they’re mourning their daughter, and we eventually find ourselves at the school where she was killed.

But there’s much more to the film than the terrible moment of a fatal gunshot. Through minimalist animation and with no dialogue at all, the film shows us a rich lifetime of memories between parents and their child. Those memories bring the parents pain, but they’re also what will get them through their grief.

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School shootings have been so frequently in the news over the past decades that it can be hard to remember all the very real people behind the statistics – and their very real pain. “If Anything Happens I Love You” reminds us of the profound effect of a child’s murder on a family. The film isn’t based on a specific incident, but it doesn’t need to be. Terrible grief and loss follow every school shooting, and they’re captured eloquently here.

“If Anything Happens I Love You” was showcased at several film festivals in 2020, and it seems likely to receive an Oscar nomination. You can – and should – watch it now on Netflix. But have plenty of tissue handy when you do. The film’s 12 minutes aren’t easy ones – but they’re beautiful and necessary ones.

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