No one sets out to begin a film that will take twenty years to complete. And for Pam and I, storytelling has been a journey that we began when we met at college radio station and has continued through five companies, and almost five-hundred films. But September 11th was different. It happened in our backyard. Our first film 7 Days In September was a tribute to New York’s resilience and rebirth.
The decision to chronnial the construction of the National 9/11 Museum seemed easy to us – at least at first. New York would lead a conversation about 9/11, why America had generated such hate and anger, and in asking that question we’d grow to be a stronger nation. How could we resist chronically such an important journey.
We arrived eager, and the arrangement we made with the Memorial assured us almost unheard of access to our characters.
We made a decision almost on day one to follow six characters. Each of them passionate and multidimensional. Michael Shulan, Alice Greenwald, Jan Ramirez, Lou Mendes, Amy Weisser, and Tom Hennes.
Each of them was open and eager to participate. We recorded thirty or fourty hours with each of them, and I can only think of one time over seven years that we were asked to turn the camera off. In the end 670 hours of material could, one images, be shaped into any number of films. But for Pam and I, there was only one film that emerged. One journey – and it was a journey of a Museum that, in the end, wasn’t so much coming together as it was falling apart.
When you ask American’s today what happened on September 11th, they’ll tell you terrorists flew planes into buildings, and people died. This is true, as far as it goes.
But who flew those planes? Who funded those terrorists. What did they set out to destroy, and perhaps most disturbingly – did they succeed?
If you accept the fortune-cookie answer that the set out to attack our ‘way of life’ and our ‘freedoms as American’s’ – then how can you justify the Memorial and Musuem that today stands on the site of where the World Trade Center once rose?
You can not bring a guitar to the Memorial site. You can not sing a song. Or read a poem, or make any statement or exercise your rights to free speech. In the Museum, you are warned not to take pictures – with some vague notion of respecting the victims, and concerns over copyright. Our footage – our donation – makes up a large portion of the 9/11 exhibition’s footage. We’ve never been asked if we mind if our material is recorded and shared. For the record, we don’t mind. THE OUTSIDER hopes the anniversary will be a time when America asks new questions about 9/11, and our place in the world. We think the films deeply troubling story will encourage American’s to begin to ask the questions about 9/11 that Shulan set out to invite at the 9/11 Museum. Questions that are long overdue. .