Surreal. That’s the word most commonly used to describe the horrifically real events of Tuesday September 11, 2001, even in an industry where confronting reality is part of the daily routine. The hijacked commercial airplanes, the destruction of the World Trade Center towers, the direct hit on the Pentagon, the death and injury of thousands of people – all appeared more like scenes from an action flick than history unfolding before our eyes.
For those of us far from the targeted areas, it only seems logical to return quickly to day-to-day life. It’s comforting. The Toronto International Film Festival resumed Wednesday after halting all proceedings the previous day. Most of the people we contacted, including many in the New York and Washington, D.C. areas, were also back at work ‘the day after’. Life goes on. And yet, if ever there was a time to allow ourselves to consider the world beyond our doors, this is it.
Television – which proved its supremacy over the Internet, in my estimation – brought this tragedy home to us all with startling immediacy, presenting images most of us will never forget. The feelings of sadness, anger and fear are shared not only by a nation, but around the globe.
The implications, large and small, of this terrorist attack are as yet unknown. Air travel will definitely change, but how that will affect an industry that relies on it so heavily is anyone’s guess. Will planned events like MIPCOM and New York’s IFP go forward this year? So far, the answer is yes. But how many attendees will be able to get on a plane? How many will want to?
As journalists and documentary filmmakers, the one thing we can keep doing in the face of this uncertainty is our jobs – after allowing ourselves a moment’s pause.
Despite overloaded phone lines and email servers, RealScreen was able to contact several companies in the New York and D.C. areas to confirm the safety of their staffs. Those we have been able to reach so far include: Discovery Communications, Sundance Channel, Atlas Media, BNN, Storyhouse Productions, Kismetic Productions, Tapestry, A&E, History Channel, HBO, CNN and ZDF Enterprises. Our thoughts are with all who have been affected.