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Mario Van Peebles Explores Gun Violence in New Indie ‘If’

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*Mario Van Peebles works both sides of the camera for his latest film “If,” an indie production that also features Columbus Short and singer Dionne Warwick in a story rooted in the ripple effects of gun violence.

The story follows a former US Marshall struggling to put his life together after a case goes sideways. A former colleague returns into his life and explains that all of the survivors of the man’s unit are suffering the same symptoms and that there may be a larger conspiracy at hand.

“We pulled from a lot of things around us,” Van Peebles told The Hollywood Reporter, noting he drew inspiration from the ability of people on the “no fly list” to purchase guns, to the 2013 shootout in Big Bear, CA.

“The character that I play is the guy that could be considered quite dangerous. And he’s able to get all these weapons. And one of the questions that we ask is the question of who do we allow to have weapons,” Van Peebles said.

The filmmaker wrote, directed and starred in the movie, which wrapped production earlier in August.

Ryan Guzman, Jemma Dallebder, Lane Garrison and William Fichtner round out the cast.

Van Peebles says he’s not making a preachy movie — “It’s not a political movie but a thriller,” he says — but the film will have appearances from activist and commentator Van Jones and political commentator Roland Martin, who explain gun laws and gun history in the United States.

The actor believes that Hollywood could affect some change on gun control, even it were to take time.

“We went from the Huxtables to Obama, from ‘Will & Grace’ to gay marriage. We can make cinema that makes people think,” he said, adding: “We have people getting killed by toddlers; it’s hard not to be for some kind of gun control.”

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