"> On Seeing <i>11'09"01</i> - greg.org: the making of

On Seeing 11'09"01

Just got back from 11'09"01, the collection of eleven short films produced by Alain Brigand. It's at Lincoln Center today and tomorrow. Short answer: overall, it's impressive, and some of the shorts are quite powerful and moving. Others suck.

[Stills and director interviews are at the official site. Also, check posts from Dec. and Sept. for various synopses, articles and links.]

Ken Loach, 9'11
Longer answer: Alejandro Gonz·lez IŇ·rritu's mostly audio submission is easily the most wrenching. It's far more than enough to revive the horror of that NYC morning. If you have the slightest moral integrity, Ken Loach's segment (above) about the US-backed assassination of Chile's President Allende on Sept. 11, 1973 will sadden and anger you. (And if you're Henry Kissinger, you'll steer clear of extradition-prone jurisdictions.) Sean Penn's earnest Borgnine segment was fine, but slightly disappointing; a little too sweet. It may have fared better earlier in the show (it's 10th). Mira Nair told the true story of a Pakistani-American paramedic, a New Yorker, who was missing for months, suspected of terrorist links, but whose remains turned up at Ground Zero; he'd rushed to offer emergency assistance before the towers collapsed.
Idrissa Ouedraogo, 9'11
The biggest surprises: Idrissa Ouedraogo's touching/lighthearted segment (above) about a schoolboy in Burkina Faso who sets out to capture OBL so he can buy medicine for his mother with the reward money. He enlists his friends' help, and they're enthralled calculating how much AIDS drugs $25 million would buy. (Little did they know they could also get a penthouse at the AOL Time Warner Center. Monthly fees not included.) And Amos Gitai creates the anti-Russian Ark, one exhaustingly intense continuous shot of the chaos following a Tel Aviv suicide bombing. The idiotically opportunistic TV reporter who bumbles frantically around the scene, while refusing to comprehend that she got bumped by "some story in New York," is a little too much, but it's a bracing segment nonetheless

The biggest annoyances: Shohei Imamura's segment about a WWII soldier so traumatized he thinks he's a snake misses the mark. But Youssef Chahine's segment takes the cake for annoying. Never mind the highly sympathetic suicide bomber; that's to be expected, or at least understood. Chahine's segment is a sappy, self-important melodrama, the Egyptian equivalent of a telenovela, one starring a vastly important Egyptian filmmaker who is repeatedly addressed as maestro. Please, just wrest the camera from my hands and sit on me if I ever display such hubris.

Since 2001 here at greg.org, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting greg.org that time.

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first published: January 31, 2003.

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