Eleven directors from eleven countries have each contributed an eleven minute short film about the events of September 11, 2001 on an amazing new DVD, “September 11” from First Run Features.
This is more than just a film—it is exquisite. Here we have an entire global community showing the effect of a single event on the entire world. We, as Americans, still feel the pain of what happened that fateful day but we also need to know that there is an entire culture which is not American that exists outside of our world which we, as Americans, cannot expect to react, contribute or sympathize in the same way or in the way we would like them to. Here is an illustration of the relativity of the impact that a tragic event can have on everyone.
Each eleven minute film here offers an idea of what and who we are. We see children thousands of miles away who have no concept of American culture. A segment dealing with the Palestinian-Israeli issue shows us that all depends on whose side you are on. There is a film that is just the cacophony of voices which express every emotion on that day while showing visions that defy the conventional understanding of what terror is.
The final film is an allegory that man’s need for righteous indignation and violence is a part of his nature. The films vary in content and style and quality especially in regard to terrorist acts in Chile and Palestine and the way that they allude to the American complicity in terrorist acts. There is also a great deal of irony shown here especially in the film from the United States which is directed by Sean Penn. A man is seen grieving in his New York apartment but his shadows of grief disappear when the World Trade Towers fall t the ground and bring him a short lived joy. Through his newly lighted space, he realizes that the wife he has been mourning is really gone now. In the movie from India we see a missing young Pakistani who was thought to be a terrorist turn out to be a hero who sacrificed his own life to save others in the burning WTC.
One of the main themes of the films is that of poignancy and faith. From quoting St. Augustine through anger to the narrating of the tragedy to school children in Iran and their non-caring reaction, the film reminds us once again of that day we will never forget.
We can rest assured that there will be plenty of films about 9/11 and this eleven film compilation is going to prove to be the best of them all, I feel. Of course I cannot say that all of the eleven are great films but taken as a whole “September 11, is impressive, interesting and fascinating.
What I found amazing is shown beautifully in the selection by Amos Gitai of Israel. An Israeli journalist is trying to report on a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv but her story gets bumped because of what is happening in New York which shows just how powerful war and media are and how far we still have t go to find peace in the world. The film reveals the genius of the media in pitting nation against nation and in creating a sense of patriotism which is, indeed, false. War is not good for anyone.
It is not surprising to learn from these films that world regard for America is neutral. We learn why this feeling exists through watching these eleven short films. There are really no bad guys and no good guys—there are only those who suffer. Sure some of the segments here are better than others but seeing the feelings of other countries is important and lets us understand the reality of today.