Basic compassion demands an acknowledgement of today’s 15-year anniversary of the 9/11 massacre. The memories are seared deep and we’ll never stop recalling them. In a strange way I’ve always regretted not being in Manhattan that day. I’ll never forget how it felt with the film fraternity up in Toronto, and everyone huddling together in a kind of daze. I recall standing on the corner of Bay and Bloor Street and telling myself over and over, “This is the new Pearl Harbor.” My strongest recollection is everyone (including Brian De Palma) staring at the video footage from the lobby of the Cineplex Odeon, and some of us (myself included) still going to TIFF films after the news broke.
Yesterday a friend sent me this TIME essay about Richard Drew’s capturing of that legendary photo of the upside-down guy.
I posted a similar shot of a guy in mid-fall on the one-year anniversary. Later that day a big-name critic wrote and said I’d crossed a line. I’ve always been of two minds regarding the 9/11 horrors. On one hand I understand the feelings of people who don’t want to remember things too vividly; on the other I think it’s fundamentally wrong to heavily edit or smother the reality of what happened, at least for those who might want to go there.
Posted on 9.9.11: “I’ll be appalled for the rest of my life that my Reel.com editor (whose name I’m not going to mention) chose to summarize the column that I wrote from the Toronto Film Festival on the evening of 9.11.01 as follows: “Jeffrey Wells reports on the toll that current events have had on the Toronto Film Festival, and tries to muster enthusiasm for films that have screened, including Lantana, Monsoon Wedding, and Last Orders.”
“This was back in the day when entertainment websites wrote about and/or acknowledged only entertainment subjects…even if the horrible death of nearly 3000 people from jumping or flames or being crushed had led to a major film festival deciding to halt its various programs to show respect and take a breather. Even then, Reel.com felt that it was better to not be too specific (don’t want to encourage people to not think about movies!) and to refer to this slaughter as ‘current events.’ Thank God that mentality has been entirely rubbed out on the web.”