LOS ANGELES -- One film provides a positive message of unity. Another dramatizes the president's difficult days. A third offers sympathy to a nation wounded on Sept. 11, while including foreign filmmakers' points of view.
The span of emotions that Americans felt on Sept. 11, 2001, is reflected to some degree in movies coming to DVD about the attacks. The films' tones range from communal and hopeful to raw and provocative.
Arriving today are "7 Days in September," a chronicle of New Yorkers in the week after the attacks, and "DC 9/11: Time of Crisis," starring Timothy Bottoms as George W. Bush in a drama that begins with a whispered word about the attacks to the president during a school visit and that concludes with his resolute speech to the nation the following week.
Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11," which drew record numbers for a documentary, debuts on home video on Oct. 5. "September 11" -- a collection of 11 short films produced in France that some critics felt had an anti-American tone -- comes out Oct. 26.
"September 11" presents short films from an international gallery of directors, including Sean Penn, Claude Lelouch, Mira Nair, Ken Loach, Danis Tanovic, and Alejandro González Iñárritu.
Loach's film features an exiled Chilean who writes a letter to families of Sept. 11 victims, expressing sympathy but adding that a US-backed coup in Chile, on Sept. 11, 1973, brought a regime of terror and murder to power. And Israeli director Amos Gitai's segment on a suicide bombing is a reminder that his country experiences terrorism on a daily basis.
"The bar would have to be pretty low on your definition of anti-Americanism to call this anti-American," said Edward Arentz, executive vice president of Empire Pictures, which is releasing the DVD and handled the film's US theatrical run.
"It feels really directed at the American public as a way of saying, `Look, we share your pain,' and then to further say, `But you have to understand some other things about the role of the United States in the world,' " Arentz said.
"DC 9/11" is a dramatization of Bush and aides in a crisis unlike any the White House had faced.
"The film itself doesn't really play on the emotions of 9/11 particularly," said Lionel Chetwynd, producer and writer of the film, which aired on Showtime. "It's really an attempt to show: How do you attempt to make policy in this sort of extreme situation?"
Chetwynd said he had gained good access to the White House to research the movie, including a 53-minute interview with Bush himself.
The movie "7 Days in September," which was seen on A&E, is a collaborative effort featuring footage from 28 filmmakers, some of them professionals, some of them amateurs, to create a portrait of life in New York City in the week after the attacks.
The producer, Steven Rosenbaum, said he began the project after looking out of the windows of his Manhattan production office and seeing demonstrations of enormous good will, charity, and resilience amid the people's grief and anger.
"I think anyone who watches it will come out in the end feeling surprisingly hopeful and really very proud of what we did as a nation and as a city," Rosenbaum said.