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Sept. 11: One year after

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Some see anti-American bias in 11 short films by international filmmakers about Sept. 11

By Pamela Sampson, Associated Press

PARIS A French-backed cinematic experiment that aimed to find out how filmmakers from around the world view the Sept. 11 attacks is drawing criticism that it is anti-American.

Variety magazine said some of the 11 short films that make up "11'09"01" are "stridently anti-American."

And the Italian daily Il Foglio, calling the movie "garbage," said: "The French financiers recruit 11 well-known and some unknown directors ... they explain to us how the United States deserved what happened."

The film's producers say it does not have an anti-American slant, but is an exploration of tragedy from many different angles.

Discussions are under way with potential U.S. distributors, but the producers are in no rush to show the movie in the United States as the first anniversary of the world's deadliest terrorist attack draws near.

"This is now a period of mourning for Americans," said artistic producer Alain Brigand, who came up with the idea for the movie. "We are not in a hurry for this film to debut in the United States."

The film, produced by French media giant Vivendi Universal's StudioCanal and Galatee Films, will be shown at the Venice Film Festival on Friday and the Toronto Film Festival on Sept. 11. It opens in France and a dozen other countries on that date.

Each of the 11 contributing filmmakers was given up to $400,000 to spend, the only restriction being each film's length: 11 minutes, nine seconds and one frame. (The title corresponds to the date of the attack as it is written in France.)

The short films include American Sean Penn's portrayal of an isolated, aging widower; a love story by Claude LeLouch of France; Bosnian Danis Tanovic's meditation on the Srebrenica massacre; Israeli Amos Gitai's choreography of a suicide bombing; and Japanese master Shohei Imamura's denunciation of war.

Egyptian director Youssef Chahine's contribution is an 11-minute blast at U.S. foreign policy that stars the ghost of a handsome U.S. Marine killed in a terrorist attack in Lebanon in 1983. Chahine lectures the dead Marine on the destruction that U.S. meddling in the world has wrought -- from Hiroshima and Nagasaki to the current Middle East conflict. The ghost is grateful for being enlightened.

British filmmaker Ken Loach features an exiled Chilean living in Britain who writes a letter to the families of the Sept. 11 victims, drawing their attention instead to the events in Chile on Sept. 11, 1973, when a U.S. -supported coup d'etat ushered in an era of torture and death.

Indian director Mira Nair tells the true story of Salman Hamdani, a 23-year-old Muslim who died while trying to rescue others at the World Trade Center but who initially was thought to be a terrorist. Characters include intolerant white New Yorkers and insensitive FBI agents.

Nair said she was inspired by a desire "to react to the current of phobia against Islam" since Sept. 11.

A pause from some of the invective against the United States comes from Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, who intersperses a black screen with video footage of people throwing themselves out of the burning World Trade Center. The film ends with a message written across the screen in Arabic: "Does God's light guide us or blind us?"

On the lighter side, filmmaker Idrissa Ouedraogo of Burkina Faso puts together a poignant tale of a destitute little boy who quits school to earn money selling newspapers because he needs to buy medicine for his dying mother. One day, the boy takes a close look at one of the newspapers and notices that the front-page picture of Osama bin Laden bears a strong resemblance to a man in the street.

The boy becomes convinced the man is bin Laden, and enlists four friends in a comical attempt to capture the man for the $25 million bounty that the United States has placed on bin Laden's head.

Children are also central to Iranian director Samira Makhmalbaf, who tells the story of a teacher trying to convey the meaning of the Sept. 11 attacks to Afghan refugee children. The lesson ends when she gathers them at the foot of a tall chimney billowing smoke that looks hauntingly like one of the twin towers on fire.

Today's news:
Ceremony at Ground Zero
Mass. remembers victims
Silence, tears mark day at Logan
Under alert, Mass. carries on
Bush faces day with resolve
World remembers attacks in US
Memorial in Shanksville, Pa.
Updated wire coverage

Photo galleries:
Families mourn, remember
Ceremony at Ground Zero
Ceremony at the Pentagon
Ceremony at Pa. crash scene
Remembrances worldwide
Remembrances in Boston

NECN RealVideo:
Moment of silence observed
Ceremony at State House
Gettysburg Address read
Procession at Ground Zero
A somber travel day at Logan
Images of Sept. 11, 2001

 THE SERIES

 DAY ONE   SEPT. 3

Preparing for the worst
Security has become the new norm in Greater Boston.

 DAY TWO   SEPT. 4

Fear and children
Children's responses may shed light on human anxiety, resiliency.

 DAY THREE   SEPT. 5

Muslim minds
The US effort to win over Muslim hearts and minds is failing.

 DAY FOUR   SEPT. 6

Science vs. terrorism
New chemical, biological threats spur nation's top minds.

 DAY FIVE   SEPT. 7

Detainees
For those deported after Sept. 11, the losses are wrenching.

 DAY SIX   SEPT. 8

A special Magazine issue
A Sept. 11 narrative by former Massport chief Virginia Buckingham, plus an essay by Christopher Hitchens.

A special Arts section
How culture has changed since Sept. 11, including a gallery of art inspired by the attacks.

A special Focus section
A look at how the lives of six Americans were altered.

Everywhere USA
Terrorism comes to God's country.

 DAY SEVEN   SEPT. 9

Where is Al Qaeda?
How have bin Laden and his terrorist group eluded US forces?

 DAY EIGHT   SEPT. 10

Two cities
New York and DC one year later.

 DAY NINE   SEPT. 11

America remembers
The US looks back at the terrorist attacks.

Victims and survivors
A year later, still hurting.

A time for bells and remembrance
A clash of views on terror
Limited damage to the economy
Families build support system
NYC's healing process
Finding comfort in the kitchen
Bailey: A day of atonement


From the Associated Press:
Tribute paid with tattoos
Charities changed by 9/11
White House calls home
9/11 stole innocence, love
Man escaped earthquake, 9/11
Update on 9/11's famous faces
Firemen still burying dead
A mother's note to a lost son
9/11 created heroes in death
Voice mails bring comfort
Little things hold memories
87th floor survivor copes
Sampling of 9/11 memorials
Pentagon survivors move on
Moments of silence on Sept. 11
Survivors try to move forward
Families cling to chances
Sept. 11 widow trying to forgive
Widow becomes an advocate
Workplace response varies
Graphic: Funds offer relief





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