New York Film Festival 2001

Martha P. Nochimson


The New York Film Festival 2001 took place against a background of the horror and beauty, fear and hope, anger and love released into the air along with noxious columns of smoking dust and ash by the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11 by a group of terrorists. It was an inauspicious time to ask people to travel anywhere by air, and certainly to New York City. But, oddly, the festival was not marked by a sense of absence, but rather a consolidated presence. Many who were stranded at the Toronto Film Festival, in progress while the attack took place, did not let that experience stop them from attending the screenings in New York. The same was true of a large number of the directors represented. The organizers of the festival told us that, contrary to expectations, the directors asserted their absolute determination to attend *because* of the attack. They were moreover unusually eloquent and forthcoming in their responses to questions about their films at their Press Conferences. Sentimental it is not to assert that the onslaught of the preceding weeks brought out a counter response, a need to assert in the face of a horrible chasm of human remains, wrecked steel, and sharded glass the integrity of the human bond. In the words addressed to the terrorists by of one of the survivors of the agonizing flight down tens of flights of stairs in the World Trade Center: if you want to kill us, leave us alone; we will do that for ourselves. But if you want to make us stronger, attack us and we will band together.

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