Memory Box: Echoes of 9/11

MSNBC Films / Sky Documentaries / Toronto International Film Festival

Memory Box: Echoes of 9/11

In the months following the terrorist attacks that struck New York, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001, artist Ruth Sergel set up a plywood video booth, inviting passersby to stop and recount what they had witnessed and felt.

Filmmakers David Belton and Bjørn Johnson have interspersed Sergel’s testimonies with news footage from the time to create a powerful narrative of how those massive, cataclysmic events affected specific individuals, and how those memories have come to reshape lives. The result is a remarkable portrait of both trauma and resilience.

Halo provided full Picture and Sound Post Production.

Sound Editor, John Rogerson says, “Contributors going into a booth to relive trauma coupled with archive footage shot by people the on the streets of NY – on their phones, their camcorders, whatever they had, snatched voices and horror in the newsreels, emergency services radio traffic – put it all together and you’ve got a challenging mix of sound sources.

The aim was to build a sonic montage that ebbed and flowed with the nightmarishly dynamic events of the day. In hindsight we all know how it played out but on that day, no one knew what was coming next.

The mix was never gratuitous or fake – (nothing on this film is stock sound effects – it’s all real) it simply underpins the confusion, panic and shock of the day without ever grabbing centre stage.

It was a hugely demanding mix, days of patient fine-tuning was required to ensure the sound and picture melded into each other without ever tripping over each other or getting in the way of the contributors’ recollections.

All the sound sources were sonically compromised but other than the contributors dialogue we lived with the noises, splats, distortion and muted moments.

This is the sound they heard on the day, and nothing could be more visceral or powerful.

Raw, real and shocking.

Director Bjørn Johnson said, “One of the best sound post experiences I have ever had. Simon Hill is a master of his craft. As a mixer, he has that rare ability to work both quickly and intuitively. On our tight budget and schedule, his poise and subtlety was not only a saving grace, it truly lifted our film to cinematic levels. Thank you, Halo.”

Producer: Hugo Godwin / Elizabeth Fischer
Director: Bjørn Johnson / David Belton
Editor: Kate Spankie / Simon Dales / Bjørn Johnson
Colourist:  Duncan Russell
Online Editor: John Bentley
Sound Team:  John Rogerson / Simon Hill
Post Producer: Jon Osbourne
Sales Exec: Will Garbutt


Watch the trailer here



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