September 11 Film and Video Documentaries

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The "9/11" filmmakers captured 45 minutes of footage inside the North Tower.

The first documentary about September 11 was shot and shown on that very day. Video

cameraman Evan Fairbanks was shooting a documentary about Trinity Church when the planes crashed into the towers right before his eyes, and his camera. Part of the 25-minute video was shown that very day on television by Peter Jennings, that night by Connie Chung, the following morning on Good Morning America, and, by the end of the week, on Ricki Lake. Two months later, it was shown in its entirety as part of a museum exhibition at the New-York Historical Society, where a critic called it "a Zapruder film for our time."

But within months it was clear that this is one tragedy that, unlike the Kennedy assassination, was an event captured by many filmmakers. As Society President Kenneth Jackson has observed, "this is going to be the most documented tragedy in the history of the human race."

Six months after the attack, the families of some of the victims expressed reservations about the broadcast of two separate documentaries about firefighters who had rushed to the rescue on September 11. One of them, "9/11," was a two-hour film made by two French brothers, Gedeon and Jules Naudet, who had been making a documentary about a firehouse that happened to be close to the World Trade Center and filmed 45 minutes of footage inside the north tower. (The other one, "New York Firefighters: The Brotherhood of September 11" was shown on the Discovery Channel and was about a firehouse in the south Bronx that had lost an entire squad.) When CBS aired "9/11" it was watched by nearly 39 million viewers, the most watched non-sports broadcast of the season.

"WTC:Uncut" documents Ground Zero's transformation into a tourist attraction.

Many other filmmakers have created documentaries out of the event, its aftermath, and the response of New Yorkers to September 11. Many of these films will be shown on television or at festivals in the weeks leading up to the one-year anniversary.

"In Memoriam: New York City, 9/11/01" followed Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in the moments and days after the attack will be broadcast on HBO on September 11. PBS will air "Stranded Yanks," the stories of Canadians opening their homes to American travelers after their flights were grounded in the days after the attacks. "WTC: Uncut" a film chronicling the collapse of the World Trade Center and the events that followed, including rescue efforts, the first major league baseball game, and a peace rally in Manhattan -- will be presented at the New York Historical Society starting September 12.


The List

9/11
By Jules and Gedeon Naudet
This film, shot by two French brothers, was meant to be a documentary about a firehouse in lower Manhattan. However, on the morning of September 11, the filmmakers followed firefighters into the towers and captured some of the most intense footage shot on that day.
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America Rebuilds
A documentary examining the cleanup process at Ground Zero, based on interviews with engineers and construction workers. It was filmed during nine months. It is going to be presented on PBS on September 9, 2002.
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Artist Response to 9.11
By Dana Plautz and Dave Decker
A documentary showing initial responses of 20 different artists to the September 11th tragedy. It portrays how art and creative expressions are a means of coping and healing. Footage and projects were gathered from around the nation and the world.
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The Bridge Back: New York's Children After 9/11
Citizens' Committee for Children of New York, Inc.
An original short film about the impact of the World Trade Center disaster on the well-being of children in New York City. It will be presented on September 5, 2002 ( 10 a.m.) at 120 Broadway, Suite 3048.

Brief Encounter with Tibetan Monks
Paul Harill
A film portraying the search for understanding of the U.S. response to terrorism.
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Brothers on Holy Ground
Mike Lennon
A documentary based on several firefighters' personal experiences and their look at the World Trade Center disaster.

Carefully Taught
Valerie Soe
A four-minute film about the patriotic fervor following September 11.
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China Diary (911)
Eva Ilona Brzeski
A short film showing the emotional impact of the World Trade Center tragedy on a New Yorker traveling in China.

The End of Summer
Frazer Bradshaw
A documentary about a young girl who shares her fears arising from the September 11 tragedy.

From the Ashes: 10 Artists
Deborah Shaffer
A 56-minute documentary about the reactions of 10 different artists to the World Trade Center disaster. Among those interviewed are performance artists Laurie Anderson and Pat Oleszko; video artist Skip Blumberg; painters Barbara Friedman, Shahzia Sikander, Jane Hammond and Lisa Corinne Davis; photographer Joseph Rodriguez; and musicians Oscar Santiago and Tony Nunziata.
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In Memoriam: New York City, 9/11/01
Adocumentary about September 11th attacks with former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani as a guide. Much of the footage originated from video cameras of more than 100 people who witnessed the event, but what adds to the film's uniqueness is the unprecedented access to City Hall and the mayoral staff from the very moment they found out about the attacks. It was nominated for five Emmy Awards and will received an encore presentation on September 11, 2000 (8 p.m.) on HBO
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Isaiah's Rap
Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman
A tribute to the victims of the World Trade Center disaster by a 14-year-old poet and nephew of filmmaker Rob Epstein, filmed on a Tribeca rooftop.
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Last Night in New York
Wednesday Kennedy
A multi-media show portraying the immediate aftermath of the September 11th disaster. It contains images and reactions of New Yorkers trying to accept and cope with the tragedy. It will be presented on eight nights between Aug. 21 and Sept. 13 at the Trilogy Theater, 341 W. 44th St.

Loss
Etienne Sauret
A film elegy for six firefighters who died in the World Trade Center tragedy. It was shot at several different firehouses in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens where firefighters shared how September 11th has changed their lives.
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Morning: September 11
Darcy Dennett
A six-minute film capturing the reactions of horrified New Yorkers who watched the Twin Towers burn and collapse from the banks of Staten Island.

NYC: 9/11
John Schnall
One-minute film portraying how the World Trade Center tragedy stirred compassion and created unity among New Yorkers.

Prayer
Jay Rosenblatt and Caveh Zahedi
A film presenting the power of prayer in diverse cultures.

September 10th (Uno Nunca Muere la Vispera)
By Monika Bravo
A tribute to Michael Richards, an artist who died in the World Trade Center disaster. It was filmed a day before the tragedy on the 92nd floor of Tower One. It was presented at Documentary Fortnight at the Museum of Modern Art on December 15, 2002.
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Site
Jason Kliot
A portrait of the faces of those who visited the World Trade Center disaster site following the attacks. It was presented at the Sundance Film Festival and now is being shown at film festivals around the world.

Stranded Yanks
A documentary about Canadians opening their homes to American travelers who were forced to spend a few days away from home after their flights were grounded in Canada shortly after the attack on the World Trade Center. It is going to be presented on PBS on September 9, 2002.
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A Strange Mourning
David Driver
A film about the vigil held in Los Angeles three days after the attack on the World Trade Center.

Tales from Ground Zero
By Steve Rosenbaum
Stories of how animals made September 11 a day of miracles. The film portrays the important role of dogs that helped in rescue efforts as well as pets that offered comfort to those coping with the tragedy. It was premiered on Animal Planet on December 17, 2001.
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Filmmakers documented seven-year-old Nicolas's reaction to hearing about his mom's death.

Telling Nicholas
By James Ronald Whitney
A documentary about Nicholas, a seven-year old boy whose father waited 10 days before telling him that his mother was killed in the attacks on the World Trade Center. It will be presented on September 9, 2002 (9 p.m.) on HBO.
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The Voice of the Prophet
Robert Edwards
An interview with Rick Rescorla, head of security for Morgan Stanley Dean Witter at the World Trade Center (who was killed in the September 11th attack), filmed on the 44th floor of the South Tower in 1998.

Turning Tragedy into War
By Paper Tiger Television.
A 28-minute documentary critiquing the media's coverage of the U.S. involvement in the Middle East in light of the September 11 tragedy. It was presented at Documentary Fortnight at the Museum of Modern Art on December 15, 2002.
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Voices for Peace
Robbie Leppzer
A video documentary about the first national anti-war demonstrations which took place in Washington, DC and New York City after the attacks on the World Trade Center.
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WTC: Uncut
By Mado Productions
A 75-minute documentary showing the burning and collapse of the World Trade Center and the events that followed the attack, including the rescue efforts, the firefighters' funerals, first major league baseball game, Prayer for America and October 7th Peace Rally in Manhattan. It will be presented at the New York Historical Society starting September 12, 2002
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WTC: The First 24 Hours
Etienne Sauret
A 30-minute documentary, devoid of commentary or music, showing the destruction immediately following the attack on the World Trade Center.
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Yesterday and Today
Igor Chepusov
A portrait of New York before, during and after September 11, showing the views of an independent production group.