Answering the Call: Ground Zero's Volunteers
Directed by Lou Angeli
Narrated by Kathleen Turner
Copyright 2006 Chesca Media Group
Direct Source, Special Products, Inc.
Running Time: 65 minutes
Reviewed by: Laura Slap-Shelton, Psy.D.
"I looked over at my partner and I said, 'Look at these amazing people.' We looked and I felt the presence of a higher power, I really did." You will feel this too when you watch Answering the Call, Ground Zero's Volunteers.
Lou Angeli's tribute to the trauma workers of 9-11 describes first hand with video footage not yet seen, the rescuers' responses to 9-11. Narrated by Kathleen Turner, this video depicts first hand the rescue effort turned to recovery effort. Through the stories of several volunteers the stories of thousands are honored in a tableau of the events at ground zero. From the police and ambulance workers to the coast guard and volunteer cruise ships to St. Paul's Chapel, to doctors, counselors, and clergy, to the food donations, to the bravery of the search dogs and their owners to the cheering crowds that greeted the workers as they went on and off of their shifts: all are honored.
Answering the Call challenges us to reframe the message of 9-11. It is not about being attacked but about the miracle of compassion that enables people to join together in selfless effort. People who never knew each other came together and as one rescuer stated, "would give their lives for strangers...everybody was a brother and a sister immediately..." All bias vanished.
The film deftly brings the viewer into ground zero through the eyes of the early responders. "We didn't know where we were going; we were just trying to find a spot where maybe we could do some good..." As some of the rescuers approached the site they were puzzled about the firemen coming out covered in white. Stories such as that of a young volunteer who got boots for a rescuer whose boots had worn away leaving him barefoot, detail the conditions under which the rescuers worked and how the volunteers supplied food, clothing and whatever else was needed.
Kathleen Turner's moving narration serves to tie together the many threads that create a unified story. The film is richly produced and well paced. By focusing on the compassion and dedication of the volunteers this film avoids devastating us but rather affirms the best of the human spirit. Serving as a memorial to all who lost their lives on 9-11, an honoring of all who devoted their lives to the 9-11 rescue and recovery, and, most importantly, as a testament to the capacity of human beings for compassion and altruistic action, the film provides the most healing balm of all: hope. For as Lou Angeli reminds us "...The human spirit is composed of an incredibly deep well." This film is recommended to everyone.
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