New York Post
January 15, 2002

Note: This article was cut because of space limitations when it appeared in the Post. This is the full version.

Filmed stories of twin towers tragedy


One of the hardest tickets to get at this year's Sundance Film Festival is a special program devoted to the Sept. 11 terror attacks, which is drawing sell-out crowds hoping to see how the film world addresses the tragedy.

"We were going to go skiing, but I was like, 'No, we've got to go see that,' " said Fritzi Horstman of Los Angeles, who grew up on the Upper West Side and was associate producer of another Sundance film, "Our America."

"I wanted to see what artists were doing with this event, since I would have done something myself."

The five short films — which organizers warned were only a first effort to tackle the subject, not a definitive statement — were an unpolished lot, but included moments of sorrow and hope for the audience.

The most emotional entry is also the simplest — Jason Kliot's "Site," which, rather than show the building wreckage itself, focuses on the faces of the people looking at the site.

A man nervously bites his lip over and over; some squint searchingly into the bright blue sky; many struggle to hold in their silent tears. Two men in suits look at the scene, one pointing and speaking animatedly, his friend nodding as if he doesn't hear a word, in a moment that seems to capture the daze that gripped New Yorkers in the disaster's aftermath.

Kliot of TriBeCa, whose full-length feature "Love in the Time of Money" is also in the festival, said he began by filming the trade center site but then decided against it. So he turned around and walked the other way.

"I just started carrying my camera and walking through people," he said. "I didn't know it was a film."

The one film that was made before Sept. 11 is Robert Edwards' "Voice of the Prophet," an interview that was supposed to be part of an unfinished documentary on war.

Morgan Stanley security chief Rick Rescorla (also a subject of the book and forthcoming film "We Were Soldiers Once and Young") talks bluntly about the city's unpreparedness for a terrorist attack, in language that becomes coldly ironic when we learn that Rescorla died in the tragedy. He escaped the building with others in his office, but went back in because of his duty as security chief to help others get out.

The final, more hopeful film, "We Are Family," brought the crowd to its feet, singing and clapping along to the 1979 R&B hit of the same name. The film documents the post-Sept. 11 recording session that produced a star-packed benefit version of the song — featuring singers from Patti LaBelle to Deborah Gibson and other celebrities from Macauley Culkin to John McEnroe, joined by police, area residents and doctors from local hospitals.