Aug 25, 200602:19 PMThe Life
ShortFest: The Falling Man
Aug 25, 2006 - 02:19 PMDealing with the subject of the Vietnam War in a cinematic way was nearly taboo, for several years after American involvement ended. By the same token, the events of September 11, 2001 have been largely avoided by filmmakers, until recently.
This is the year the silence ended: in big ways (Oliver Stone's World Trade Center, for example) and in smaller ways (like this morning's ShortFest program After the World Changed).
Today's post-screening Q&A session was much like group therapy. Many audience members wanted to express their passionate opinions about the films, about 9/11, about terrorism, about war. We were all overdue for a discussion on this subject, and these incredible movies lit the fire under us. Each of the films was a gem, in its own special way, and each approached the topic from a unique point of view.
But one film stood out, in my mind anyway: Kevin Ackerman's The Falling Man. I was deeply touched by the photograph and the magazine article that inspired this project, so I went into the theater with a chip on my shoulder. Nothing could live up to that powerful lineage, I said to myself. But I was wrong.
If there is a nascent genre of "9/11 films," this is the one that transcends the genre. How do you convey the horrific mundaneness of starting your workday in a restaurant, and gradually realizing it will be your last day on earth? What series of events leads to that fateful decision to jump, rather than to face the unholy hell of a burning skyscraper? How did this anonymous man's forced journey towards death become a front-page photograph... and a riveting magazine article... and a masterful short film that moves people to tears?
[more ShortFest coverage]