by Susanna Styron and Jacki Ochs
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In the wake of the September 11 attacks, New Yorkers from all walks of life felt compelled to overcome their sense of powerlessness by volunteering to help out in the recovery effort. They brought in supplies, set up relief stations, and for ten months fed and cared for the recovery workers. Many deep and unexpected — even unlikely — relationships developed out of this.
Using cinema verite footage, interviews and archival photographs, we follow several characters through a series of events reuniting them with each other after the closing of the site. Through their stories we present a portrait of the city within a city that was Ground Zero, and examine how an extremely diverse group of people transcended politics and culture in an effort to heal their city and themselves.
9/12: From Chaos to Community — a 60-minute character-driven documentary — is a vibrant, moving, sometimes funny, sometimes painful portrayal of hope and healing in the wake of disaster.
Susanna Styron is the director and co-writer of the critically acclaimed Columbia Pictures feature film, Shadrach, starring Harvey Keitel and Andie MacDowell (Venice Film Festival, Tokyo Film Festival, Los Angeles International Film Festival). For television, she wrote and directed Bottlecaps, for A&E's 100 Centre Street, created by Sidney Lumet. She directed and co-produced A Day Like Any Other, a half-hour film starring Richard Beymer and Ally Sheedy (Special Jury Award, San Francisco International Film Festival; Special Jury/Gold Award, Houston International Film Festival).
As a documentary filmmaker. Susanna wrote, produced, directed and edited In Our Own Backyards, an award-winning documentary about the nuclear industry on the Navajo Reservation (PBS; Museum of Modern Art). Other documentary credits include Suspended Sentence, which she produced, directed and edited; and Avenue Of The Americas, on which she was assistant editor. She has also worked as an Associate Producer for Close-Up, ABC TV's documentary division.
The author of several screenplays, Susanna has also had articles published in Spin Magazine, The Yale Revue and The New York Times. She holds a B.A. from Yale University and an M.F.A. from the American Film Institute. She currently teaches directing in the graduate film program at Columbia University.
On September 11th, Jacki Ochs' daughter watched the towers burn from her classroom window two blocks away from the WTC. Shortly after the impact of the second plane, Jacki and family were fleeing north. Her daughter's school reopened February 2002 when the fires were finally extinguished.
Jacki's film work includes both experimental and documentary genres, which have been broadcast worldwide. Her film, The Secret Agent about the chemical Agent Orange received many awards including the John Grierson Award for Best New Director from the American Film Festival (1984), Special Jury Prize from the Sundance Film Festival (1984), premiered at the New York Film Festival (1983), Mannheim Film Festival, Germany (1983) and Cinema du Reel, Paris (1984). Other awards she has received for her work include a NYFA Fellowship (1987), two MacDowell Colony Fellowships (1986,87) and a Guggenheim Fellowship (2001).
Jacki recently finished producing and directing a 15th anniversary tribute film for MergerWatch. She is now producing a film with Susanna called Out of My Head, about the disease migraine. Prior to 9/12 she was Executive Producer for award winning Untold Story Of Emmett Louis Till, directed by Keith Beauchamp, released Fall 2005.
Stephanie Zessos volunteered at Ground Zero for several months. Her 9/11 work also included helping downtown residents and workers receive financial assistance from the Red Cross, Salvation Army and the United Way September 11th Fund. After the official end of the recovery effort at Ground Zero in May 2002, she produced Brothers Lost: Stories of 9/11, a feature length documentary about men who lost their brothers on September 11th, which premiered on HBO/Cinemax Reel Life on September 11th, 2006.
Stephanie began her film career working for feature film directors Phillip Noyce, Sam Shepard and Hector Babenco. Some of the films she worked on include The Saint, Clear And Present Danger, Carlito's Way, The Doors, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Point Break and Barton Fink.