(DOCUMENTARY) Shot on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, teenagers return to PS 234, their elementary school, three blocks from the World Trade Center. Ten years later, what do they remember? What are their attitudes? This is a glimpse of NYC kids, thoughtful, tolerant, hopeful and wise.
Awards: In the permanent collection of National September 11 Memorial Museum; Special Selection: New York No Limits 2013 Summit; Best of Festival, Documentary Short: Richmond International Film Festival 2013; Honorable Mention: Rochester International Film Festival 2013; Official selection in 13 additional festivals.
Directed by Florence Buchanan
In collaboration with Arthur Bijur
Produced by Susan Smitman / Florence Buchanan
Executive producers Nadia Zilkha / Jane Wells / Susan Ould
Producers Donna Green / Jane Newman
Director of photography Melissa O’Brien
Hallway portraits / PS 234 video & stills / Joanne Dugan
Editor Peter Mostert, Hooligan NYC
Music Amber Music / Opus
Executive music producer Michelle Curran
Music supervisor Mike Perri
Executive producer Gloria Pitagorsky
Cast (in order of appearance)
My children were in their 1st and 3rd grade classrooms at PS 234 on 9/11 and I was in the schoolyard when the first plane flew screamingly low over our heads. After it hit the north tower, Anna Switzer, the principal, spoke on the school intercom system: “Would all the teachers with south-facing classrooms please lower your blinds.” And the extraordinary teachers kept on teaching. We all know what happened the rest of that day.
In 2011, PS 234 invited parents and alumni to their commemoration on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Thinking about teenagers showing up on the premises gave me the idea for the film. I wondered how these kids were doing 10 years on, how they had processed everything they had seen and experienced that day. I dug out my old student directories and started contacting parents. Right There was born.
My daughter Octavia is in the film – now studying Interior Design at Rochester Institute of Technology – along with some poised, thoughtful, optimistic, wise young people. The fact that nearly a third of them want to go into public service, I believe, is the effect of 9/11.
About the making of the film:
We shot the entire film on the Sunday of 9/11/11. DP Melissa O’Brien and I filmed all the interviews in one south-facing classroom with 2 Canon 7D’s and the time lapse with a Nikon D7000 in another classroom. Meanwhile Joanne Dugan shot the portraits, stills and b-roll in other parts of the school on a 3rd Canon 7D. Literally, a one-day shoot.
Other PS 234 stills incorporated into the film were from Kara Pranikoff’s 2nd grade class photography project in June 2001 with donated Fuji disposable cameras. My son Harrison was in her class. The kids’ perspective on their Tribeca neighborhood – spirited and innocent – became powerfully poignant images in light of September’s unspeakable tragedy.