You can't watch Sully without thinking about Sept. 11. Not just because Clint Eastwood's film was released the weekend of the 15th anniversary of 9/11/01, and not just because it's a film about a plane crash in New York City (including dream sequences of planes crashing into skyscrapers). Sully brings to mind 9/11 mostly in its somberly humane celebration of people united by survival and heroism in the midst of trauma.
At breakfast in the cafeteria at Wheaton College on that Tuesday morning, someone I knew—I don’t even remember who—mentioned something about a plane hitting the World Trade Center. In my mind I envisioned a tiny Cessna accidentally clipping the building. Didn’t think much of it. If this had happened in later years my phone would have been buzzing with texts and tweets telling me of the event’s magnitude. But this was 2001.
Rebirth is a powerful new documentary about 9/11, released last week in advance of the 10-year anniversary of that infamous day in history. The documentary, directed by Jim Whitaker, is part of a larger “Project Rebirth,” which is interested in the process of renewal and growth--both physically, emotionally, psychologically--in the wake of the traumas of 9/11.
Perhaps moreso than other cities, New York has that peculiar combination of crowded connectedness and desolate urban isolation. On one hand the city cares and accepts all people and all dreams; on the other, it is an impenetrable, callous machine of industry and ambition. On 9/11 both faces merged as the city in all of its seething terror and magnificence forever changed. Before that day, NYC was the incomprehensible nexus of the world. But after that day, NYC was forced to consider the truth of its mythos: that it is still just a city, vulnerable and imperfect as anything else.