(director: Jim Whitaker; cinematographer: Thomas Lappin; editors: Kevin Filippini/Brad Fuller; music: Philip Glass; Runtime: 104; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Jim Whitaker/David Solomon; Oscilloscope; 2011)

“Whose intimate presentation makes it seem like the ultimate healing process film.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Bethesda-born LA residing director Jim Whitakertakes a decade to fully reflect on the 9/11 tragedy and the post 9/11 aftereffects. The film is viewed through the eyes of five people interviewed, whose lives changed dramatically forever as a result of that incident. The five are: Tanya, Tim and Brian, who each lost a loved one firefighter; teenager Nick who lost in one of the towers his Lehman Brother’s financial worker mother; and Ling, who worked on the 78th floor of the south tower at the New York State Tax Department and after being the sole person from her office to escape suffered scars over her face, arms and body from severe burns and has undergone multiple operations.

It’s a slow-moving, starkand inspirational heart-pulling character study documentary, whose intimate presentation makes it seem like the ultimate healing process film. It tenderly deals with those who lost loved ones or those who survived but are still tormented over the events of that tragic day. It lets us know that moving on can never mean completely letting go of what happened. Rebirth lets these ordinary folks freely express themselves and in their own words they offer their life philosophies and how they found new beginnings despite still not being able to overcome all their grief.

It’s not an easy pic to watch because these people are real and their emotions are so raw, as it’s both a sobering and pious reminder of that tragic day. That it is at times too sentimental, doesn’t diminish the importance of such a record of personal history. But it does make me think it’s more a film one would watch on DVD or on cable than what one would see at a movie theater.

By having some 14 time-lapse cameras implanted in place on Ground Zero some six months after 9/11, the filmmaker allows us to see how Ground Zero started as an empty pit and how it became an active construction site that eventually brought to fruition the new structures where the Twin Towers once existed.

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REVIEWED ON 10/28/2011 GRADE: B-