Animation, as a medium and an art form, can be powerfully profound, especially when it delivers a universal message through an intensely personal story. Dustin Grella’s short film about September 11 achieves just such a synthesis. His sad story, sparely told, is perfectly complemented by the simple beauty of his drawings that are, at once, both ephemeral and unforgettable.
In early 2003, I was sitting on Chair 9 with then Mountainfilm Festival Director Rick Silverman. He asked what I was working on and I responded that I’d produced an odd, but interesting, short that featured a tour guide from New York City named Speed Levitch. Shiva—directed by indie filmmaker Richard Linklater—follows Levitch around downtown New York on a walking monologue as he offers a very different vision of Ground Zero, one that does not involve another glass and steel tower. Silverman asked to see Shiva, but I responded that it takes place entirely in the city and didn’t seem right for this festival. He asked to see it anyway, so I sent it. He liked it and said it was just right for Telluride. I proudly became an official Mountainfilm filmmaker for the first time and am thrilled to screen it again ten years after 9-11.
Longtime filmmakers, as well as longtime locals, Beth and George Gage (Mountainfilm 2011, Bidder 70) traveled to New York City to tell the story of several women who lost their husbands on September 11, 2001. The film shows how these widows, many of them married to firefighters, have moved forward with their lives bravely and the best they can in the ten years since that hellish day. And while their loss endures, they have also invested themselves in a range of causes–from autism to a race for firefighters–and done so in a way that is deeply impressive.