9/11 Documentary is a 2002 French-American documentary film about the September 11 attacks in New York City, in which two planes crashed into the buildings of the World Trade Center. The film is from the point of view of the New York City Fire Department. The film was directed by Jules and Gedeon Naudet, and FDNY firefighter James Hanlon
Filmmakers James Hanlon and the Naudet brothers were originally filming Tony Benetatos, aprobationary firefighter of the New York City Fire Department assigned to the Engine 7/Ladder 1/Battalion 1 Firehouse on Duane Street in Lower Manhattan with the intention of making a film about the “probie’s” first experience as a firefighter. On the morning of September 11, the firehouse, under the direction of Battalion Chief Joseph Pfeifer, was called out on a reported “odor of gas” at Church and Lispenard Streets. Jules rode with Pfeifer to investigate, while Gedeon stayed behind at the firehouse with the “probie.”
As the Battalion 1 firefighters examine the supposed gas leak, American Airlines Flight 11 flew overhead. Turning the camera to follow the plane, Jules taped one of only three known recordings of the first plane hitting the North Tower (Tower 1) of the World Trade Center, the others being a video shot by Pavel Hlava and a sequence of still frames taken by Wolfgang Staehle.
The firefighters, under the direction of Chief Pfeifer, were the first responders on the scene, and Jules was allowed to follow the chief during the attempted rescue operation. Jules, Chief Pfeifer and several other FDNY Chiefs were inside the lobby of Tower 1 when Tower 2 was hit by the second aircraft and when Tower 2 eventually collapsed (Gédéon, meanwhile, is back at the firehouse, filming the reactions of Tony Benetatos and the rest of the firefighters from the next shift as they try to deal with the disaster). The film gives various firemen’s accounts of the events of the remainder of the day – from the initial crash to the building’s collapse to the attempts to rescue survivors from the rubble – as well as the aftermath of the events and those who were lost, including Chief Pfeifer’s brother, Engine 33 Lieutenant Kevin Pfeifer.
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