If you are thinking about buying a gun, filmmaker Spencer Gillis may change your mind. His 17-minute Sundance short dramatizes the emotional shift that takes place when a person has a gun in his coat pocket.

"Gun" opens with every family man's nightmare. A dark house, a sleeping wife and baby. The man of the house hears someone break in.

Gillis doesn't spare viewers the intensity of emotion as the wife wakes up and the husband creeps toward the hallway, not knowing what he will encounter. Those opening frames feel like an eternity.

The scare ends, this time, without a confrontation, but the main character is shaken enough that he buys a gun. Portrayed with understated intensity by actor Gabe Fazio, it is plain that he has never handled a weapon before, but he learns quickly.

As Gillis's film plays out, Fazio's personality begins to change -- the gun changes the dynamics of his relationships at work, at home and in the community.

"Gun" provides a fascinating contrast to the plethora of documentaries surrounding the current gun control debate. It is an elegantly short piece of fiction that raises questions about the emotional dimensions of the issue that may not be raised in the political debates.

According to Gillis, "One purpose cinema serves is to offer cathartic encounters, to play out morally or ethically dangerous experiences in a safe space. "Gun" offers that space to the audience in a powerful way because it comes so close to home."

"Gun" screens in Shorts Program IV at the following times:

  • Saturday, Jan. 19, 6 p.m., Broadway Centre Cinema 6, Salt Lake City

  • Sunday, Jan.20, 6:30 p.m., Redstone Cinema 1, Park City

  • Weds., Jan.23, 8:30 p.m., Prospector Square Theatre

  • Thursday, Jan. 24, 4 p.m. Holiday Village Cinema 4