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Sept 11 plane drama to open NY film festival

Written by: Staff

NEW YORK, Mar 30 (Reuters) ''United 93,'' a film dramatisation of the events on the hijacked plane that crashed in Pennsylvania on Sept 11, will have its world premiere at a New York film festival next month.

'''United 93' recreates the doomed trip in actual time, from takeoff to hijacking to the realization by those onboard that their plane was part of a coordinated attack unfolding on the ground beneath them,'' organizers of the Tribeca Film Festival said yesterday.

The festival was founded by actor Robert De Niro in 2002 to help revitalize lower Manhattan after the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

Opening films in previous years have been comedies such as ''About a Boy'' and ''Down with Love'' as well as the thriller ''The Interpreter'' last year. This year's choice of ''United 93'' as the opening film returns the focus to Tribeca's roots.

''The festival was basically created eight months after Sept. 11 and it was to give our neighborhood something to look forward to and to help the renewal, and to do that you need to laugh,'' the festival's co-founder Jane Rosenthal told Reuters.

''We found ourselves for several years saying we need a comedy.

In year five, we need to remember,'' she said.

Written and directed by Paul Greengrass, director of ''The Bourne Supremacy,'' the film is billed as a drama about the passengers, crew, their families on the ground and the flight controllers who watched as events unfold on the fourth airline hijacked on Sept. 11, 2001.

Two of the planes crashed into the World Trade Center and the third into the Pentagon. Passengers on the fourth plane sent messages to loved ones saying the plane had been hijacked and they were going to try to overcome the hijackers.

Rosenthal said that after nearly five years there was a danger the events of Sept. 11 were fading from people's memories. ''A lot has happened in the world and as a country we seem to have a short term memory loss,'' she said.

Some of the relatives of those who died on United 93 are expected to attend the premiere in New York on April 25, the first night of the festival which runs until May 7.

''It is never easy to relive the events of 9/11, yet I support 'United 93' as a tribute to the heroism of my brother and the 39 other passengers and crew who collectively chose to say 'no' on that fateful day,'' Gordon Felt, who lost his brother Edward on Sept. 11, said in a statement.

The films in competition at the festival include several with political themes, particularly related to the Middle East and the war in Iraq.

''We're a festival that was started because of an act of war, so we have always had films and panel discussions that bring up difficult subjects,'' Rosenthal said.


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