7 Days In September

"Excellent"

7 Days In September Review


Historian, writer, and Nobel Prize Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel once said, "without memory our existence would be barren and opaque...memory will save humanity." The documentary 7 Days In September does an exemplary job of acting as a vital memorial to the terrorist events of last September 11, and the one week in New York City that followed. As Mr. Wiesel would agree, it is important, for many reasons, to remember and comprehend the horror of the attacks, but there's also a tremendous -- perhaps even more noble -- value in recognizing the nature of emotion and action that came from such a crisis.

Director Steve Rosenbaum and his crew from the independent New York City production house Camera Planet ignored their assigned projects on September 11, 2001 (as did most of the country) and took their cameras around Lower Manhattan to record some of the most chilling and surreal activity ever seen in a documentary.

But they weren't alone. Putting depth of scope and responsibility before ego, Rosenbaum obtained footage from scores of local video makers -- pro and amateur -- who also documented the day. This group of dedicated storytellers, with their divergent backgrounds and points of view, kept tape rolling through the week, chronicling the reaction of the citizens of New York City. The result is a time capsule of fierce emotion, inevitable conflict, and ultimately, generosity, all stirring in America's biggest city.

In most good films, especially documentaries, there are moments that remain in the viewer's mind as a representative description, and 7 Days is full of them. Credit Rosenbaum and his team for sifting through what must have been countless hours of footage and recognizing those events that easily weave into the fabric of memory.

Some are horrific -- the attack of the second jet airliner, a long-distance shot of a person leaping to his death, confused people choking on billowing dust and detritus. Some ring of emotional passion -- citizens congregating and arguing for hours in Union Square, people waving and cheering for rescue workers at an area known as Point Thank You.

Rosenbaum even adds to the moments of inspiration and deep sadness with an odd bit of levity, as an angry young schoolboy explains the attacks, his emotions, and the world, with a delivery that makes you think Woody Allen existed in this prepubescent boy's body. When the boy rambles on, addressing the camera about world politics, his style elicits small, easing-the-pain laughs. When he breaks into tears, the precocious youngster becomes a kid again, and the result is temporarily heartbreaking.

Wiesel and perhaps Santyana would want us to remember all this, take it all in, and never let anyone forget, but perhaps the most powerful gifts of memory in 7 Days in September occur early in the film, when a private pilot shoots footage of the overwhelming New York City skyline before the attacks occur, capturing precious moments of serenity, achievement, and maybe naiveté that now only exist on tape. Because as the film moves forward in time, it becomes sadly apparent that the pilot's images take hold of a visual and a mood that will never be recaptured or replaced.

Reviewed at the 2002 Boston Film Festival.

Surviving the day.



7 Days In September

Facts and Figures

Run time: 94 mins

In Theaters: Friday 6th September 2002

Distributed by: Anchor Bay Entertainment

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Fresh: 11

IMDB: 7.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Steve Rosenbaum

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