Cinefile: Not quite ready to roll?

A number of movies based on the 9/11 terror attacks will be released soon.

united 93, 88 (photo credit: )
united 93, 88
(photo credit: )
A number of movies based on the 9/11 terror attacks will be released soon and United 93 is generating the most intense interest. Part of this is because it was recently announced that the film will be the opening attraction at the Tribeca Film Festival, which will begin on April 25. United 93 looks at the flight, headed for San Francisco, that was hijacked and was apparently going to attack the White House when it crashed in a field in Pennsylvania after its passengers, alerted by cell phone calls to the fate of the other three highjacked planes, fought back against the terrorists. Theaters throughout the US have started showing a trailer for the film, and the trailer has generated controversy, upsetting some audiences and causing a debate on whether Americans (and particularly New Yorkers) are ready for a film on this topic. Director Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Supremacy) said that he contacted and received permission from relatives of all the victims of the flight to make the film. But Newsweek reports that shocked audience members in New York City screamed, "Too soon!" at the screen in theaters showing the trailer. Theater and studio executives said that they will not pull the trailers but will make sure that they are shown only before films rated R or PG-13, which is understandable. One problem with the trailer is that it comes as a surprise to audiences, while moviegoers who make the decision to see the movie once it is released will know what they are getting into. Although it's impossible to say in advance, the movie seems to have been made thoughtfully and in good taste, based on the trailer, which I found moving and made me want to see the film. Go to and watch it for yourself. The story of the foreknowledge and courage of the passengers on this flight already inspired the Neil Young song, "Let's Roll" and it seems inevitable that this story should be the basis for a feature film. A television movie on the subject, The Flight That Fought Back, was already shown and received high ratings on the A & E network. Sandra Felt, the widow of one of the victims of United 93, told The New York Times she was surprised that audiences were so upset by the trailer. "I think of it as a good thing; it creates awareness about terrorism," she said. "9/11 is a fact. It happened. Running away from the movie isn't going to resolve underlying factors of why we're upset by it." It is an especially appropriate film to open the Tribeca Film Festival, because Robert De Niro and his producing partner, Jane Rosenthal, started the festival in 2002 to help revitalize downtown Manhattan after the 9/11 tragedy. It tends to showcase big Hollywood productions and in past years the opening feature has been a high-budget movie featuring top stars, such as The Interpreter with Sean Penn and Nicole Kidman. But this year, the programmers have made the decision to go a different way. Other films in this year's festival that deal with 9/11 include The Saint of 9/11, a documentary about a gay priest killed in the attack. Oliver Stone is also making a 9/11 film, but it won't be ready in time for Tribeca. It's disturbing to imagine what the master of conspiracy-theory films has in store for unsuspecting moviegoers on this topic. Although no Israeli feature films will be on the Tribeca program, the documentary, Dear Father, Quiet, We're Shooting, by David Benchetrit, about IDF war crimes and how they are investigated, will be shown. The full program of short films is not available yet and it's possible that this category will include some Israeli films. SEVERAL CLASSIC ISRAELI films will be screened at the Jerusalem Cinematheque this week. All of them are a bit dated, but still of interest for Israeli film buffs. They include the 1972 I Love You, Rosa directed by Moshe Mizrachi (who later won an Oscar for his French-language movie, "Madame Rosa") and starring Michal Bat-Adam as a young widow in turn-of-the-century Jerusalem who marries her brother-in-law. It's playing on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. On Saturday at 7:30 p.m., you can see But Where Is Daniel Wax? (1972), directed by Avraham Heffner, a look at Israel's younger generation and one troubled young man.