110 STORIES (FILM)
As we approach the 15th Anniversary of 9/11, we’re still missing that iconic film about the event, though we’ve watched the Towers fall over and over again. Why? Because no film has captured the event through the eyes of people like you and me. Until now…
110 STORIES is a feature film about September 11th as told by people who experienced it directly. It weaves together their first-person narratives into a chronological tapestry, each story reverberating into the next. We hear from everyday people… a pet-owner, a tech wiz, an ironworker… even a homeless man, who saved lives that day too. 110 STORIES is about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. Their bewildered, profound and humorous responses reveal a 9/11 we've never seen.
The film is adapted from my play, 110 STORIES, which is based on interviews I conducted while volunteering in the recovery. Actors play these real people as if they’re being interviewed “on location.” The resulting scripted film looks like a doc shot right after 9/11 in Lower Manhattan with its dust-covered streets, Salvation Army tents and candle-enshrined firehouses. The film’s characters tell their stories while serving food, sorting donations or scanning a wall of missing posters.
110 STORIES is personal. People trusted me with their stories, which are filled with observations we can all relate to. A mother wonders if all the papers in the air might be a ticker tape parade. “Was there a Yankees game? I'm not much up on sports.” A doctor feels guilty about the incongruous deluge of donated luxury food at the recovery site, "You feel like you should be suffering too, rather than eating chicken parmigiana.” A chiropractor, giving massages to ironworkers, reports, “One guy asked me, ‘Will this make me gay?’ I said, ‘Only if you take your dick out while you walk over!’”
Even Firefighter Don Casey, who emerges as our main protagonist, isn’t a larger-than-life “hero” in bunker gear. He’s a mere mortal, like you and me. We watch him develop PTSD as he realizes this is no ordinary fire, “It looks like a desk at first. But as it's coming closer, you can see arms and legs on this pers-- on the body coming down.” His journey from trauma to recovery marks 110 STORIES’ central theme.
110 STORIES includes information withheld from the official version of 9/11. A nurse overhears the EPA fudge air quality readings. First responders aren’t provided with adequate medical follow-up despite early symptoms of illness. And even after the first plane hit, the City delayed fire companies a crucial fourteen minutes to save overtime money. The City’s lack of preparedness becomes painfully evident in 110 STORIES’ gripping account of the North Tower collapse. We intercut between eight different characters as they endure life-threatening circumstances. Yet no one knew what was going on, not even recovery personnel.
110 STORIES ends with 2016 footage of the real people whose stories make up the film. They bring us into the present with their reflections on where they are now, inspiring us to consider our own lives in today’s world.
Building on the success of the play, which was performed at the Vineyard Theatre, Public Theater and Geffen Playhouse 110 STORIES can draw up past cast members to reprise their stage roles for the film. These include Billy Crudup, Edie Falco, Neil Patrick Harris, John Hawkes, Katie Holmes, Samuel L. Jackson, Melissa Leo, Susan Sarandon, Tony Shalhoub and Kathleen Turner.
Objective truth will always be elusive, especially with an event as politicized as 9/11. But viewers know emotional truth when they see it. And they climb on board.
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