PBS, ARTE France and Channel 4 have officially unveiled Generation 9/11, a feature-length documentary from Arrow Pictures which takes a look at the impact of the 9/11 tragedy on its 20th anniversary through the eyes of the 100+ children born in the wake of their fathers’ deaths.
“We have made a number of films about 9/11, but they have all focused on the day itself,” John Smithson (pictured), executive producer and creative director, Arrow Pictures, said in a statement. “What’s exciting about this project is having the opportunity to examine life in the wake of 9/11, through the eyes of the children who have all been uniquely shaped by the tragedy.”
Following the lives of the group of teenagers, Generation 9/11 will document what’s happened to them and their families in the 20 years following al-Qaeda’s assault. The film mixes shared events in the lives of these children — their first days of school; the first time each time felt the absence of their father; the moment they each learned how their father died — while also serving as a lens to look at the broader world.
“Having the backing of three significant and equal partners through both the development and commissioning process has fueled our creative ambition for this film,” adds Smithson. “Our research team spent months identifying all the individual stories. From there, we will focus down on a small cross-section of children whose fathers died on that fateful day, people from all sorts of diverse backgrounds across America and the world beyond to unveil the hidden cost of the tragedy.”
Generation 9/11 will track its protagonists on their personal journey over the last 20 years using a combination of new footage, family photos and home archives. It follows in the footsteps of other 9/11 films from Smithson, including the Emmy-nominated 9/11: Phone Calls From The Towers (Channel 4) and the BAFTA-nominated 9/11: The Falling Man (Channel 4/Discovery Channel).
Generation 9/11 is directed by Liz Mermin, an award-winning filmmaker who has directed documentaries including First Ladies, detailed portraits of Michelle Obama and Nancy Reagan for CNN; and The Beauty Academy of Kabul for BBC ‘Storyville’.
Generation 9/11 will be delivered prior to the 20th anniversary of September 11. It was commissioned by Bill Gardner, VP of programming and development at PBS; Mark Edwards, commissioning editor of international copros at ARTE France; and Sacha Mirzoeff, factual commissioner at Channel 4. Lucie Ridout is the executive producer, with Smithson as creative director.
The project was discussed while it was still in development during a panel session at last year’s virtual version of Sunny Side of the Doc.
(With files from Barry Walsh)