September 11 (review)

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Eleven directors from around the world react to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, each film exactly 11 minutes, 9 seconds long (11-9 was the date in the inverted European system). The results are personal and political, abstract and straightforward, bittersweet and mournful, angry and searching: for an understanding of the attacks themselves and of America as an ideal that sometimes fails to live up to itself. Weighing in are such notables as Mira Nair (India), Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Mexico), Samira Makhmalbaf (Iran), Ken Loach (England), Danis Tanovic (Bosnia), and others, in films that shame the U.S. government for its imperialistic policies and the American people for their bigotries, that ponder the nightmarish violence that human beings can inflict upon one another, that wonder at the profundity of sorrow we can share with people we don’t know in alien places on the other side of the planet. All are hard to watch — particularly the American entry, from Sean Penn, which seems to suggest even this darkest of clouds has a silver lining — but in the end, they inspire hope, that by examining a horror we can perhaps prevent a recurrence.

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