UK broadcaster Channel 4 (C4) will air a season of documentaries this autumn to commemorate 10 years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, commissioning indies such as Testimony Films and Nutopia to offer what it says will be fresh, poignant perspectives on the event.
The net has ordered five docs: 9/11: The Fireman’s Story; 9/11: ER; The Children of 9/11; Inside the Mosque at Ground Zero and Targeting Bin Laden.
The first two both come from Testimony Films, and form a two-parter called 9/11: The Tenth Anniversary. In ER (1 x 60 minutes), producer-director Steve Humphries looks at the emergency treatment of the injured that took place in and around the World Trade Centre as the jets crashed and the towers fell on the morning of 9/11.
Meanwhile, The Fireman’s Story (1 x 60 minutes), from producer-director Joseph Maxwell, promises to examine “the dramatic stories of individual firemen on that fateful day.”
Elsewhere, the tentatively titled Targeting Bin Laden (1 x 90 minutes), from Jane Root’s Nutopia, is billed as an ambitious drama-documentary telling “the nail-biting and complex story” of the operation to hunt and kill terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.
The film will blend archive news footage and military imagery with drama, featuring detailed interviews with politicians, spies, generals, special force operatives, al Qaeda experts and other key insiders. The director is Bruce Goodison and the exec producers are Root and Phil Craig.
Hamish Mykura, C4′s head of documentaries, who commissioned the two documentaries from Testimony Films and the single from Nutopia, said: “In 9/11: The Tenth Anniversary, two documentaries tell the stories of those caught up in the events of 9/11. In 9/11: ER, we see how timely intervention saved the lives of hundreds of walking wounded.
“9/11: The Fireman’s Story explores the reality of what the fire-fighters achieved on 9/11 and the impact that had on their lives. Targeting Bin Laden is an ambitious drama-documentary, setting out a range of perspectives to tell the dramatic story of the operation to kill Bin Laden.”
Of the other titles, Children of 9/11 (working title, 1 x 90 minutes) comes from Darlow Smithson and looks at the almost 3,000 children under the age of 18 who lost a parent during the attacks.
The film promises to “give a voice, for the first time, to the young people directly affected by 9/11: the children who lost a parent on that fateful day and those who were born afterwards – their lives linked by a terrible accident of fate that has made their childhoods part of the most significant and terrifying event of modern times.”
The director is Janice Sutherland, the producer Nacressa Swan, and the exec producers Julian Ware and Tom Brisley.
Finally, CTVC’s Inside the Mosque at Ground Zero (1 x 60 minutes), from producer-director Dan Reed, looks at the controversy in New York City over proposals to convert an old Burlington Coat Factory store in lower Manhattan, several blocks away from Ground Zero, into an interfaith Muslim community center. The exec producer is Ray Bruce.
Ralph Lee, C4′s head of specialist factual, who commissioned the documentary from CTVC, said the controversy surrounding the issue was “an extraordinary prism through which we can view the ways that America has and hasn’t been able to accommodate Islam post 9/11.”
He added: “With Children of 9/11, the passage of time since the attack on the Twin Towers is put in stark relief, as we see the events through the eyes of a generation for whom it defined their personal lives and the wider world in which they have grown up.”
The season of programs is due to air on C4 ahead of and around September 11.