- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 5, 2002

PARIS Critics are lining up to trash a French-backed cinematic experiment whose aim was to find out how the rest of the world views the September 11 attacks. Not with much sympathy for America, it turns out.
While the producers say their film, "11/09/01," does not have an anti-American slant, they are in no rush to show it in the United States as the first anniversary of the world's deadliest terrorist attack draws near.
"This is now a period of mourning for Americans," said artistic producer Alain Brigand, who came up with the idea for the movie. "We are not in a hurry for this film to debut in the United States."
The film, produced by French media giant Vivendi Universal's StudioCanal and Galatee Films, will be shown at the Venice Film Festival tomorrow and the Toronto Film Festival on Sept. 11. It opens in France and a dozen other countries on that date.
The film, which consists of 11 short films about the attacks, has already stirred debate in Europe about whether some of the self-contained segments are "stridently anti-American," as Variety magazine called them.
"It's garbage," the Italian daily Il Foglio said of the movie. "The French financiers recruit 11 well-known and some unknown directors they explain to us how the United States deserved what happened."
Each of the 11 contributing filmmakers was given up to $400,000 to spend, the only restriction being each film's length: 11 minutes, nine seconds and one frame.
The short films include American Sean Penn's portrayal of an isolated, aging widower; Israeli Amos Gitai's choreography of a suicide bombing; and Japanese master Shohei Imamura's denunciation of war.
Egyptian director Youssef Chahine's contribution is an 11-minute blast at U.S. foreign policy that stars the ghost of a handsome U.S. Marine killed in a terrorist attack in Lebanon in 1983. Mr. Chahine lectures the dead Marine on the destruction that U.S. meddling in the world has wrought from Hiroshima and Nagasaki to the current Middle East conflict. The ghost is grateful for being enlightened.
British filmmaker Ken Loach features an exiled Chilean living in Britain who writes a letter to the families of the September 11 victims, drawing their attention instead to the events in Chile on Sept. 11, 1973, when a U.S.-supported coup ushered in an era of torture and death.
Meanwhile, a poll released yesterday found 55 percent of Europeans believe U.S. foreign policy is partly to blame for the September 11 attacks, Agence France-Presse reported.
Worldviews 2002, a survey of more than 9,000 Europeans and Americans, was undertaken jointly by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations and the German Marshall Fund of the United States. The poll, conducted in June and early July, has a 4 percent margin of error.
The poll finds a large majority 75 percent of Europeans and 92 percent of Americans support the use of troops to wipe out terrorist camps.
Four out of 10 Americans believe the September attacks "represented the true teachings of Islam" to a great degree, while 76 percent of Americans favor tightening immigration from Arab or Muslim countries, according to the poll.


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