SEPTEMBER 11, 2001 - NEW YORK CITY.
In the dark and intensely compelling, new animated short film, 9-11/9-11, American conceptual artist Mel Chin creates a tale of two cities… a tragedy of two times, weaving together a story of love and hope wrecked by overt and covert manipulations of power. 9-11/9-11 is presented as part of a global dialogue about the human impact of these collective traumas. The film is an international collaboration between Chin, American filmmaker Chip Schneider, and Chilean animation partners PlanoVisual Estudio de Animación in Santiago, Chile.
The voice cast includes American actress Lili Taylor (State of Mind, I Shot Andy Warhol, Dogfight), well-known Chilean satirist Juan Carlos “Palta” Melendez, and popular Chilean stars Sandro Larenas, and Rosario Zamora
The film premiered on 9-11-2007 with a live videoconference linking Tribeca Cinemas in New York City with the Centro Cultural Palacio La Moneda in Santiago – a museum at the site of the 1973 military coup. Additional screenings took place the same day in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston.
In 2008, the Chilean Council of Culture and the Arts awarded 9-11/9-11 the Sienna Award - the “Oscar” of Chile - as Best Animated Short Film. 9-11/9-11 was an official selection of the Cinema and Human Rights in Latin America Film Festival (Cinema e Direitos Humanos na América do Sul), the LA Shorts Fest, the Santa Fe Film Festival, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, the Valparaiso International Film Festival, the Antofagasta Film Festival, AnimaChile, the Santiago Short Film Festival in Chile, and the Byron Bay Film Festival in Australia. In 2008, 9-11/9-11 was awarded Best Art Film by the 3rd Annual Southern Appalachian Film Festival and received a special award from FESANCOR, the Festival Chileno Internacional del Cortometraje de Santiago (the Chilean International Short Film Festival of Santiago). The American Advertising Federation-Houston awarded the 9-11/9-11 trailer with a Gold ADDY® in 2009.
When bad things happen, the worst response is to do nothing. The tragedies of 9-11 in the United States and in Chile did not inspire or spark creativity, but they did compel contemporary artist Mel Chin into action. Making an art film became a means to make sense of the unthinkable. Creating the story became a way to spur a creative, critical investigation of two world events.
In 2002, under the pen name “Ignacio Moreles,” Mel Chin created the graphic novella 9-11/9-11. The novella was printed and started appearing, distributed for free, in the streets of New York on 9-11-2002. From the beginning, Chin envisioned the story as a film. It took years to develop a script that captured the spirit of the original work and to create a link with Chilean animation artists willing and able to undertake a complex film, animated by hand.
While many would believe that the tragedies of September 11, 1973, and September 11, 2001 are have no connection, 9-11/9-11 weaves them together to tell story of love, hope, family, power, and manipulation. The events are tied… by time, by people, by places, and by tragedy. 9-11/9-11 is a tale of two cities . . . and a tragedy of two times.
Here's the story:
Mike Smith (not his real name) was an idealist who came to Chile to help get rid of the "commies." While in Chile, he trained a young pilot, Jorge Montes, and met with the soon-to-be dictator, Augusto Pinochet. On 9/11/1973, Mike’s trainee, Jorge, flew one of the planes that bombed Palacio La Moneda, the presidential palace in Santiago. The democratically-elected president of Chile, Salvador Allende, died inside the building, perhaps by suicide. After the coup d’etat, Mike left Chile to continue covert operations in other countries, while his protégé Jorge stayed and became a member of DINA, the Dirección de Inteligencia Nacional, Pinochet's feared secret police.
Mike goes on to help set up CIA training camps in Afghanistan to prepare Taliban "freedom fighters" to battle the Russians. In the 1980s, he retires to the Midwest, where he gives flying lessons to crop duster pilots. He hides his past, gets married and has a baby girl. Father and daughter are close, but as time goes by, the girl becomes an independent, artistic spirit . . . and splits for NYC.
Jorge develops into a powerful and feared agent of Pinochet's DINA in Chile. Once an idealist and hopeful about his country’s future, Jorge’s desire for power transforms him into a monster. He tortures and rapes. One of his victims is a female activist who becomes pregnant after being raped by Jorge. (United Nations’ records document that such events actually occurred.) She gives birth to a boy and names him Salvador, after President Allende. Later, as a young man, Salvador remembers Jorge as a dark menace named "DINA" . . . a shadow that looms over his youth and his mother's broken spirit. He can't relate to his mother’s tragic, secret reality. And she will not tell him who his father is. In search of a better future, Salvador leaves for the United States… and arrives in New York City.
Nicknamed “Chili Dawg” on the streets of NYC, Salvador is homeless for a time, but eventually finds work as a dishwasher at Windows on the World, the famous restaurant at the top of the World Trade Center’s North Tower. It is there he meets a young waitress, an artist named Julia.
Two young adults – both from broken families, disinterested in politics -- meet in NYC, get drunk on Chilean wine, and become lovers.
9-11-1973 is forgotten. Then… 9-11-2001 happens.
In these times of spectacular 3D computer animation, it’s becoming increasingly rare to find animated films that are made in the original method – by hand.
Using not much more than pencil and paper, 9-11/9-11 was animated by the artists of Plano Visual Estudio de Animación in Santiago, Chile. A team of approximately 30 artists, led by Art Director Felipe Montecinos and Animation Producer/ Lead Translator Ximena Romero have created a richly detailed visual work. For the film’s visual style, Mel Chin and the animators found inspiration in the intense and complex etchings of the Spanish master Francisco Goya, especially his print series Los Desastres de la Guerra (The Disasters of War). This approach gives 9-11/9-11 a new look, clearly made by hand. It has a visual complexity and spontaneity rarely seen in animation today. The production process was about 16 months. 9-11/9-11 received the prestigious Pedro Sienna (the Oscar of Chile) for Best Animated Short Film in 2008.
The decision to work with animation artists from Chile was inspired by historical events. Recently declassified US government documents verify that the 1973 military coup in Chile was supported by the United States. Henry Kissinger, then National Security Advisor, put the US plan into action under the direction of Richard Nixon. A CIA communiqué from that era stresses that “the American hand” must be “well hidden.” With an American artist, Chilean animators, and an American filmmaker working together on 9-11/9-11, all “hands” can now be revealed.
Mel Chin, creator of 9-11/9-11 says: “Primarily, this is a love story. I used the construction of a love story as a means to speak of connections between huge events and personal events. The history resides in the background of the film, and then swells forward to engulf the characters. The official governmental stance is that there is no connection between these events. In a fictional film such as 9/11- 9/11, the connections are made and interpreted to the audience. It is difficult to deal with harsh realities. It is an artist's job to establish conditions so momentary empathy or thoughtful reflection may emerge from the damage. The making of the film is not intended to offend but to provoke curiosity that can transcend the tragedies so we can engage in a discourse that is informed, as opposed to speculative.”