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Documentary “9 Lives” Pays Tribute To Victims Of Dec 1991 NYC Sean Combs-Promoted Concert

Documentary "9 Lives" Pays Tribute To Victims Of Dec 1991 NYC Sean Combs-Promoted Concert

The short story goes… On December 28, 1991, Sean “P Diddy” Combs promoted a concert, headlined by the late Heavy D, at the City College of New York gymnasium, following an AIDS charity basketball game. The event was overcrowded since it was oversold to almost twice capacity, while thousands without tickets were outside. To keep them out, Combs’ people shut the only door to a stairwell and put a table behind it, though the crowd jammed inside was pounding on the door and pleading for help. When the crowd outside broke several glass doors in an attempt to get in, a stampede ensued inside the gymnasium in which nine people died.

In memory of that night, a director’s cut world premiere screening of Jason Swain’s 9 Lives – a documentary that is said to pay tribute to the 9 victims (including his brother Dirk), who he lost their lives that night – will take place on Wednesday, December 7, 2011, at 7PM at the Harlem International Film Festival’s Hi Wednesdays series, which will close out this year’s fest.

Swain’s film…

Unravels the moments in the countdown to disaster and the circumstances that needlessly took nine youngsters from their loved ones. 

With Rodney King’s video-taped brutal beating making headlines in the Spring of 1991 and the Crown Heights riot spinning New York City into turmoil that August, this examination of the City College 9 disaster seeks peaceful reconciliation, artfully avoiding finger-pointing to let us witness first-hand how institutionalized prejudices combined to allow something as simple as a charity basketball game in Harlem to spiral out of control. 

The screening will happen at Maysles Cinema is located at 343 Lenox Avenue (Malcolm X Blvd.) between 127/128 St.

The director will also be present for a discussion after the screening.

Watch the preview below:

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Kay A

I was up in the front of the line and was witness to the whole thing

Missy Loo

I was in attendance.I walked over dead bodies into safety. It was this one particular guy on the floor, for some strange reason I couldn’t keep my off him. I watched in distress as he was gasping for air, he peed on hiself. I could see the pee coming from around his stomach area. He was face down. I took one last look at him saw when he took his last breathe. He had on the new colorful Polo goose, jeans and fresh tan timbs. I knew he was gone because his tongue was slightly hanging out his mouth. I didn’t freak out then because I was in shock. The cab home back to Brooklyn the radio station kept saying another person was pronounced dead. Once safely in my bed I cried so hard, stayed in the house for days. To this very day because of that day I do not go anywhere near a crowd, and heavily medicated due to social phobia. To all the 9 fallen Angels continue to Rest In Heavenly Peace


I can't wait to see the movie. I still remember being a teen and listening to the ads on the radio for the event and wanting to attend the basketball game & the concert…then later that night crying for days about the preventable deaths that occurred and that was b4 I even found out that one of my classmates had perished in the tragedy. RIP Dirk.


Wow I hope I get a chance to see this. I left my hometown New York years ago but I remember that day well because I thought about attending the event with my sister. It was quite a tragedy but I am confused on how it was institutionalized prejudices and not plain greed and mismanagement by the promoters, as I remembered it.

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