(director: Steven Rosenbaum; editor: Marc Senter; participating filmmakers: Justin Adler, Bruce Cotler, Mike Cunga, Rasheed J. Daniel, Peter diPilato, Brian Gately, Jim Goetz, Sumner Glimcher, Dmitry Kibrik, Harry Lapham, Robert Lieblein, Kyle McCabe, King Molapo, Seamus Mills, Roy Nelson, Gary Pollard, Max Rosenbaum, Steven Rosenbaum, Alan Roth, Rob Santana, Jennifer Spell, Jenny Tolan, Brian Tunney, Scott VanderVoort and Sherwin Winick; Runtime: 93; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Steve Carlis and Steven Rosenbaum; CameraPlanet Pictures; 2002)

“A reminder of the tremendous human spirit and generosity New Yorkers showed after their WTC was destroyed by terrorists.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Director Steven Rosenbaum compiles film and video footage of the disastrous September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. It serves as an important historical record of those events and how the city reacted to such chaos and shock. It utilized the work of 28 independent filmmakers, a mixture of amateurs and professionals. The beginning shots show the familiar seen footage of planes hitting the World Trade Center and the buildings’ subsequent collapse. These shots bring back back memories of Pearl Harbor, the last time the American homefront was attacked by a foreign enemy. In the midst of this bleak scene, the filmmaker points out how contrary reactions of panic and no panic occurred. There are shots of panicky people seeking shelter in nearby buildings and also shots of people exiting the buildings in the area as calmly as if they were coming out of a baseball stadium. The documentary shows the huge crowds walking over the Brooklyn Bridge because the transit system was shut down. One shot that made a lasting impression is of someone jumping out of the Towers. A few eyewitnesses comment on how the area looks like a war zone, and we are shown fire engines completely covered in ash and office paper from the Towers strewn all over the streets as far away as Brooklyn.

The subsequent footage focuses on the reactions of the ordinary citizen and by eliciting their emotional responses it helps us understand the grief and sorrow the city was going through during this painful period. The unique documentary moves from the billowing smoke filling Lower Manhattan on the morning of the tragedy to the ways the Big Apple residents coped with so much death and destruction around them in the following seven days. There were volunteers making stretchers for rescuers to go into ground zero, other volunteers donating blood, nighttime peace vigils and makeshift memorials at Union Square, local residents lining the streets by Chelsea Piers to cheer the police and firefighters as they went into ground zero, distressed people gathering at the Lexington Avenue Armory to post fliers and photos of the missing, an abundance of flag waiving all over the city reflecting a patriotic spirit hardly ever witnessed before in the city, the informal gathering on the street corners of strangers talking with one another like they never do during normal times and it emphatically showed a city that came together in solidarity to deal with this tragedy.

What makes “7 Days” special is that it captures the gamut of emotions plaguing the city, from calls for payback to voices calling for restraint. The city proved it had the strength to survive and in these raw images recorded we see for ourselves what life was like during that terrible period. Viewing it on DVD some three years after the attacks is a different experience because the country has since then gone through a difficult time trying to figure out the best way to wage a war on terrorism. What is clearly evident to this viewer is that the world that was sympathetic to us after the attacks, is now not that sympathetic after our war and occupation in Iraq. This documentary brings us back to that time frame and allows us to see once again the footage that is troubling to look at but worth remembering. It could once again be a cathartic experience and a reminder of the tremendous human spirit and generosity New Yorkers showed after their WTC was destroyed by terrorists, especially helpful since so many political mistakes have been made following those tragic days. This is one of the better documentaries about the events of 9/11, despite some things it leaves out about how complex this event was and that the street-level reactions failed to take into account what the politicos were thinking.