DAILY NEWS: On the Anniversary of September 11, Toronto Pauses to Remember
by Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE
(indieWIRE: 09.11.02) -- On the eve of today's first anniversary of the
attacks in the United States, organizers of the Toronto International Film Festival
reminded attendees about how they will mark the occasion. Festival events
and offices will be closed for business until 11 a.m. today, while guests
are being invited to gather this morning in the press and industry areas at
the Sutton Place and Four Seasons hotels.
Last year's festival came to halt for one day following the events of
September 11 and the 2002 event has offered a number of opportunities for
attendees to consider the day and its impact.
One new film that will mark the solemn anniversary tonight is "The Guys,"
Jim Simpson's adaptation of the play written by Anne Nelson. The film
version, like the play, features Simpson's wife Sigourney Weaver, in the
role of writer who helps an FDNY fire captain (played by Anthony LaPaglia)
compose eulogies for the funerals of his men.
"It's consoling, I think, on one level, deeply consoling to people and I
think that's one reason we wanted to get it out," Sigourney Weaver told
indieWIRE Monday, referring to the new film.
As Weaver's writer struggles with how to help in the days after the attack,
she is drawn into the stories of LaPaglia's fire company. Viewers learn the
stories of four firefighters as their lives are recounted and presented in
the words of the writer.
"It does take you back, and I am glad because I think we need a document --
I think there will be many," Weaver continued. "I think this is a very
honest document, from a very specific point of view."
Produced by Open City Films and ContentFilm, the movie is without
distribution, debuting for buyers this morning at 11:15 a.m. when the
festival resumes from its morning hiatus.
Among the other films being unveiled is the collection of short films
entitled "11'09"01." Eleven filmmakers from around the world (Ken Loach,
Danis Tanovic, Sean Penn, Amos Gitai, Shohei Imamura, Samira Makhmalbaf,
Youssef Chahine, Idrissa Ouedraogo, Mira Nair, and Alejandro
Gonzalez-Innaritu) each offer, in 11 minutes, 9 seconds and 1 frame, their
own uncensored view of September 11, 2001. The program screened for press
and industry last night, drawing huge crowds, and will also debut as a gala
An array of perspectives are offered in the two-hour and fifteen minute
project, from Nair's exploration of the true story of a hero scapegoated as
a terrorist, to Ken Loach's look at the Chilean September 11th tragedy in
the 1970s. Samira Makhmalbaf takes us into a classroom where a teacher tries
to explain the tragedy half-a-world away and Idrissa Ouedraogo shows us a
group of boys hoping to capture Bin Laden so that they can cash in on the
$25 million reward and save a child's mom's life.
The anniversary of September 11 has been a regular topic of conversation
among festival attendees, especially those from New York who were here in
Toronto last year. Discussions have often been punctuated by viewpoints from
colleagues visiting the Festival from other parts of the world.
Yesterday, European Film Promotion (EFP) offered a forum for filmmakers and
industry members to discuss the impact of the attacks one year later. It was
a conversation that revealed a number of viewpoints. Today's report from
Toronto closes with those voices:
-- "I don't think the world has changed since the events of September 11,"
said Lucas Belvaux ("The Trilogy"). "What I think has changed is the way
that we see the world." Continuing he added, "I don't think that the world
is more violent today than it was before, we live in a very violent society
and what happened on September 11 was actually a climax of this violence."
-- "We are working with a very slow medium," explained Norwegian director
Unni Straume, "It takes three, or maybe four years to realize a project, the
challenge is to try to reflect on what is happening.I think that instead of
global work, what is more challenging is the consequences of this global
unrest which started some time before (September 11). There is also a kind
of a more personal unrest, a psychological unrest that I can feel myself and
something that we all can feel, we are not so sure about the future. This is
what I think that directors and filmmakers can go into -- to see (how) that
influences our characters and our stories."
-- "What I found is that we have to be very careful about what we screen and
about what we show to the world," Italian director Emanuele Crialese
("Respiro") said during the press conference, "And personally, instead of
knowing more, I realized that I know less. Why don't I know, because I watch
too much TV probably -- I don't know what is real and what is not real
"The only thing I know is that in this part of the world, life seems that it
has not changed," Crialese added, "I don't know what happened on the other
side of the world -- what are the real consequences?"
-- "It was a completely horrific tragedy and not in anyway to be condoned in
any shape or form," said director Gurinder Chadha ("Bend It Like Beckham").
"But it is (important to ask) where are these people coming from, they are
all human beings but coming from a dfferent perspective."
"For film and filmmaking, it is important to hear voices," Chadha continued.
"If anything I think what the lesson should be is -- and I think this is
happening in America particular -- that people are wanting to more know more
about what is going on in the rest of the world and in that sense I think
it's very a very good thing."
The 2002 Toronto International Film Festival continues through the weekend.
[Eugene Hernandez in Toronto]