JOPLIN, Mo. —
For Arielle Speer, a Joplin resident who lost her home in the May 22 tornado, hearing the stories of fellow Joplinites was meaningful.
“This is our legacy,” said Speer to the crowd while holding up a copy of the “Joplin, Missouri” DVD after Friday night’s screening of the documentary at Taylor Auditorium at Missouri Southern State University.
The film chronicles nearly 20 Joplinites through the events of May 22 and the continuing recovery efforts.
The tornado was the deadliest single tornado since modern record keeping began in 1950 and the seventh deadliest in U.S. history, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“I made the film with the people of Joplin in mind,” said Chip Gubera, the film’s director. “I wanted to get this story out about Joplin, and have an archival piece painting the town and survivors in a three-dimensional way.”
Gubera, a Joplin native, is a visual effects artist and a resident instructor in computer sciences at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He said he wanted to create a film that accurately depicts what the people of Joplin went through and how the city is rebuilding.
“The overall theme is hope,” Gubera said. “It just tells the true grit of what this town is. It’s a tough town with tough people.”
At one point in the film, Aaron Doll, another resident who lost his home in the storm, acknowledges the faith-based groups that volunteered after the storm. The audience applauded.
Debi Downs, a Joplin resident who attended the showing, said she was glad the film honored the volunteers.
“I thought the film was excellent,” Downs said. “It was very informative. I thought I had heard it all, but there were a lot of things I didn’t know about.”
Gubera was assisted in the film by his father, Conrad Gubera, a faculty member at MSSU in Joplin. Gubera said his sister gave him the idea, saying people need to talk and tell their stories. He started making the film a week after the tornado.
Gubera said that a limited release of the DVD will be sold only in Joplin at the MSSU bookstore, the Joplin Museum Complex and Changing Hands Book Shoppe. He said 20 percent of the DVD proceeds will go to Rebuild Joplin. DVDs cost $20. Gubera also plans to screen the film in Columbia on May 22 and in Chicago on June 29. He is currently seeking national distribution for the film.
A question and answer session with some of the film’s subjects was held after the screening.
The film is narrated by George Noory, the host of radio talk show “Coast to Coast AM.”