British drama doc. on 9/11 takes hijackers perspective

MUMBAI: As the third anniversary of the events of 9/11 draws near, British filmmaker Antonia Bird has come out with a drama documentary Hamburg Cell.

The film which aired on Channel 4 in the UK on 2 September, tells the story of how terrorist Ziad Jarrah helped hijack United Airlines flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania. It also looks at Mohammed Atta who flew one of the planes that hit the World Trade Centre.

Thus far, most material on 9/11 has looked at the victims of the attack. However the British film scrutinises the lives of the above mentioned hijackers. The film shows them in tender scenes with girlfriends and family. At the same time it also depicts an all-male world of hateful dogmatism.

Mentorn Films produced the film. Defending the approach David Aukin who heads the company's drama division was quoted in a Reuters report saying, "Unless you know your enemies you don't know how to deal with them, and just demonising them doesn't help. Understanding that they are human beings gives us some sense of what we are up against."

Another report in The Guardian added that the film premiered at the Edinburgh International Film Festival on 1 September.

Bird added that ever since 9/11 she thought about the people who drove the planes along the flight to disaster. "We knew nothing of them. So I found it fascinating to discover how these men got involved. Because of Michael Moore's film Farenheit 9/11 people are much more open to the whole subject matter than they were a few months ago."

Not surprisingly the British film has drawn the ire of certain sections. The parents of a British woman killed in the 9/11 events attacked the film as being tasteless and insensitive. Americans broadcasters had initially pulled out of the production. However talks are going on to distribute the film in US cinemas.

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