Short, But Poignant, Views of 9/11

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Many cable networks are taking time out to mark the one-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks with documentaries, films and other special programming.

Showtime's Reflections from Ground Zero
and Sundance Channel's 9 Views: 9/11
are two of the more powerful offerings. Each examines the events of one year ago, filtered through the eyes and cameras of independent filmmakers with a collection of short subjects.

Reflections from Ground Zero
tapped the talents of students from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. The collection of nine films, hosted by Spike Lee, premieres Sept. 9 at 8 p.m.

The films explore subject matter as diverse as the everyday lives of Muslim girls (Covered Girls) and mealtime at a firehouse (Breaking Bread), to iron workers at "the pile" (What Work Is) and the turning of the World Trade Center site into a tourist attraction (Welcome to New York).

Reflections
also features an uplifting look at how Americans have used the flag to express their grief and patriotism in the wake of the attacks (Unfurled).

But it's the collection's fourth film, its shortest, that packs the strongest emotional punch. From the 104th Floor, directed by Serguei Bassine and narrated by Rosie Perez, couples stark animation with a poem written by 14-year-old Leda Rodis shortly after the destruction of the World Trade Center. The effect is chilling and heartrending.

Like Reflections, Sundance's 9 Views: 9/11
features nine shorts from independent filmmakers. 9 Views
also contains one piece that uses a simple method to generate tremendous emotional impact. Untitled
by Ira Sachs features a collage of still photos of victims from the World Trade Center taken from the missing posters that appeared on poles, walls and telephone booths shortly after Sept. 11. The film has no music or voiceover, only the constant barrage of faces — some with the word missing written on them, some with identifying features noted and many taken at weddings, births and other gatherings.

Clouds
and September Eleventh Eyewitness
also pull heavily at the heartstrings.

Not all of 9 Views' films are emotional powerhouses. The World is a Classroom, with its pretentious art teacher, is more annoying than poignant, and the strange and eerie Wake
is perhaps too experimental to be included in a collection honoring the victims of Sept. 11.

9 Views: 9/11
premieres on Sundance Sept. 11 at 8 p.m.

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