EXCLUSIVE: In the latest of what is likely to be a raft of landmark TV projects to mark 20 years since 9/11, Inside Obama’s White House producer Brook Lapping will make a feature-length film driven entirely by video and audio material from the day itself.
British broadcaster ITV and France Televisions have teamed to commission the documentary, which is working titled 9/11: We Have Some Planes, while Deadline hears that A+E Networks is poised to acquire the film for American audiences. A deal is yet to be finalized, but is not far off being closed. All will broadcast the film in September next year.
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9/11: We Have Some Planes will tell the story of the 2001 al-Qaeda attack on the World Trade Center through the people in New York who experienced the events, responded to them, and recorded them. Previously unheard audio will be played, as the film features recordings from military command centers, emergency services, government calls, air traffic control, commercial airlines, private phone calls, and public broadcasts.
Coupled with the audio is video footage from the day, again some of it previously unseen, that will highlight first-hand the confusion, bravery and chaos of those caught up in the attack, which killed 2,606 people. The narrative will not be supplemented by interviews, allowing the story to play out in the way it did on the day.
Brook Lapping, which is owned by Zinc Media Group, has some form in producing 9/11 films that rely on material from the day itself. In 2011, it made the BAFTA-nominated 9/11: Day That Changed The World for ITV to mark the 10th anniversary of the terror attack.
Greg Sanderson, interim managing director of Zinc Television London, said: “With access to hundreds of hours of unheard footage and audio, which was previously locked in archives under great security, we can help paint a fuller picture of that historic day. Bringing all this audio content together has been a massive undertaking, but we hope that, in doing so, we are creating an important new record of the events of that historic day.”
ITV commissioner Tom Giles added that 9/11: We Have Some Planes will show that “we still have much to learn” about the events 20 years on, while France Televisions’ international acquisitions and co-productions chief Caroline Behar said it sheds a “new and comprehensive light on this defining moment.”
The film will be executive produced by Sanderson and Karen Edwards for Brook Lapping, which last year made Inside Europe: 10 Years Of Turmoil for the BBC and Smithsonian Channel. BBC Studios is overseeing international sales.
Another British producer, 72 Films, is making a separate 9/11 series for Nat Geo that will rely on never-before-seen archive footage and new eyewitness witnesses of the event. The six-part series has already been in production for more than two years.