Sunday, April 18, 2010

9/11: Phone Calls from the Towers (2009)

James Kent


Trapped in the twin towers of the World Trade Center on 11 September, 2001 thousands of ordinary people struggled to survive and make contact with the outside world. Many knew that time was ticking away and wanted to speak to their loved ones for a final time, while others turned to friends and relatives, as well as the emergency services, to discover what was happening and find a means of escape.  Eight years on these recorded messages and memories of the private calls are a treasured legacy for the families left behind, the last known words of their loved ones. Dignified and full of love, they show humanity at its best and most courageous.  'It's me, I just wanted to let you know I love you and I'm stuck in this building in New York. A plane hit the building& there's lots of smoke and I just wanted you to know I love you...' Melissa Harrington-Hughes, 31, 101st floor, North Tower.  'I love you, you're my best friend. I don't know if I'm going to get out of it. You have to take care of everybody for me...' Jim Gartenberg, 35, 86th floor, North Tower.  'The messages are an incredibly moving testament to the memories of the people who died in the Twin Towers and reveal the dignity, courage, humanity and love shown at the worst of times. And the victims' families, who have co-operated in the making of the film and provided most of the recordings, talk heartbreakingly about speaking to their loved ones for the final time as they watched powerless as the disaster unfolded on TV.  'All the messages are, of course, a double-edged legacy - there is only a recording because someone missed a call or the caller was in dire need of help, but as a result the families have something concrete to turn to - a portal into more life-affirming memories. The messages prompt us all to ponder whether, faced with such a terrible situation, we could act with such courage and compassion.'  James Kent who directed the film, says: 'As well as voice-messages, the film features calls from victims in the towers as they pleaded for help from emergency services. For the families who feature in the film, these calls, though painful listening, have provided greater understanding of their loved ones' actions and courage on the day - as well being an essential testament to the real human cost of 9/11.'


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