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September 11

DIRECTED BY - Danis Tanovic, Sean Penn, Mira Nair, Shohei Imamura, Samira Makhmalbaf, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Amos Gitai, Idrissa Ouedraogo, Youssef Chahine, Ken Loach, Claude Lelouch

A reaction piece to the United States' terrorist attack on September 11 2001, this controversial film calls upon eleven directors from various countries to contribute 11-minute 9-second films about the event. Variously political, violent, disturbing, abstract, opinionated, angered, or forgiving, each film is drastically different from the next. Starting the set is Iranian director Samira Makhmalbaf's touching short which focuses on school children being taught about the incident. With very short attention spans and too little understanding about where the United States is located geographically or what skyscrapers look like, the clearest message the children receive is that they will need to build bomb shelters for fear the U.S. will attack them in retaliation. Another short, directed by Mexican filmmaker Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (AMORES PERROS), is composed nearly entirely of sounds--prayers and chants and street noise recorded by news outlets that morning--while the screen remains black. Very brief glimpses of victims falling from the towers' soaring windows are the only break to the blackness while the layering of sound mounts to a chaotic fever pitch. In a film by American director Sean Penn, a very old man living in a New York apartment finds his bedroom filled with sunlight as the towers come down. A lighter take on the tragedy, from African director Idrissa Ouedraogo, shows how a group of boys in a small town learn of the $25 million reward for Osama Bin Laden's capture and set their hearts on finding him in order to buy medicine for one boy's ailing mother. Perhaps the most emotional and compassionate contributions come from Bosnia's Danis Tanovic and England's Ken Loach, who both offer vows of solidarity from the widows of Srebrenica and the victims of Chile's brutal dictatorship, respectively. Rounding out the omnibus is a bizarrely appropriate anti-war film by Japanese director Shohei Imamura (THE EEL), in which a traumatized WWII veteran reacts to the atrocities he's seen by rejecting humanity and behaving like a snake.