Underground Zero | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Underground Zero 

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In September 2001 independent filmmakers Jay Rosenblatt and Caveh Zahedi invited 150 colleagues to address the recent terror attacks, and though none of these 13 videos culled from the project is superb on its own, the mix of perspectives encourages us to think analytically about our own responses and the sources of the terrorists' hatred. The opening video, Frazer Bradshaw's The End of Summer, presents static suburban images, eerily empty of people, while in voice-over a little girl tries to understand the events of 9/11. The concluding one, an untitled work by Ira Sachs, is an appropriately silent montage of posters seeking lost loved ones. In her disturbing 21, American-born Laura Plotkin describes being attacked on the street by a man who tells her to "go back to the Middle East." Both Zahedi's The World Is a Classroom and Eva Ilona Brzeski's China Diary (911) detail the artists' emotional responses to smaller events in their personal lives, their narcissism obnoxious but instructive. It's telling that the most powerful piece has the least to offer aesthetically: The Voice of the Prophet, by Robert Edwards, is an interview with Rick Rescorla, security chief for Morgan Stanley, at his World Trade Center office in 1998. Terrorism will be "the nature of war in the future," Rescorla predicts, and our foreign policy is creating a "residue of hatred" in the world. Rescorla oversaw the evacuation of Morgan Stanley's offices in the south tower; thanks to him almost all of the 3,700 employees survived--but he didn't. Other pieces are by Rosenblatt, Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, John Haptas and Kristine Samuelson, Norman Cowie, David Driver, and Paul Harrill. 76 min. Facets Cinematheque, 1517 W. Fullerton, Friday, June 14, 7:00 and 8:45; Saturday and Sunday, June 15 and 16, 3:30, 5:15, 7:00, and 8:45; and Monday through Thursday, June 17 through 20, 7:00 and 8:45; 773-281-4114.

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