As a riposte to the ideologues and compassion raiders who were first out of the gates after September 11, this collection of responses by 11 film-makers asserts an ambiguous plurality of perspectives on the tragedy. Here are images which resist the absolutist designs of both Bush and Bin Laden. To the extent that it is its own message, this may be that rarity, a portmanteau film that exceeds the sum of its parts. Inevitably, though, the parts themselves vary wildly in achievement and approach. Makhmalbaf and Ouedraogo filter the events through the eyes of children (in Iran and Burkino Faso), touching on the irony of Third World innocents consuming a First World tragedy. Others revisit the tragedies of other nations: Tanovic shows 'mourners in arms' in Srebrenica, Loach remembers the Chilean victims of US sponsored terrorism (easily the most lucid inclusion), while Gitaï indulges the hysteria of a Jerusalem suicide bombing in a hectoring demonstration of competitive horror. Taking another tack, Iñárritu recapitulates the Word Trade Center's demolition through a sound montage, suggesting that the exploitation of spectacle and revelation is a hoodwinking device. Lelouch and Penn also fasten on experiences of sensory deprivation, the former pointlessly, the latter, with a bereaved Ernest Borgnine, mawkishly. Which leaves Nair's episode, a straightforward true story of immigrant New Yorkers' loss and cultural prejudice; Chahine's, a clumsy but rumbustious debate with the dead; and Imamura's endpiece, a gnomic reflection on holy war as once fought by the Japanese.
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