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Pinecrest High School student Lance Oppenheim announces the release of his first commissioned short film, Reconciliation. He directed and co-produced this 9/11 documentary, which is based on the stories of three Pinecrest connections with direct ties back to September 11th.
The film made its online debut just four months after the 10th anniversary of 9/11. The Hands On Network, one of the largest volunteer networks in the country, provided Oppenheim with a grant to make the film. It was also supported by GenerationOn, a global youth service organization.
Along with his film class, he spent hours interviewing three people with ties to the school, each whom have different, yet interwoven, perspectives of 9/11. Michael Testa, now a teacher, was a performer at the New York City Opera, which was about to open its season. Pinecrest parent Janet Roy’s brother was a celebrated captain in the FDNY who was called to duty that morning. Charlie Cobb, an alumnus, lived and worked close to Ground Zero and found himself thrust into the center of the chaos.
Many stories of 9/11 have emerged in the years since the attacks, however Lance’s film presents more than a simple retelling of the events of that day. A positive, heartfelt tone emerges, one of reconciliation, and of resiliency.
For Testa, there is pride, as the New York City Opera was one of the first New York theaters to reopen, mere days after the attacks. Roy cherishes the leadership and bravery displayed by her brother Billy, who saved the lives of the rest of his crew when the towers collapsed. And Cobb is committed to preserving the memory of 9/11 for future generations.
For Lance, the film was a way to present 9/11 to his peers, a way to transform what was for most of his generation merely a historical event and turn it into a living, breathing memory.
While Oppenheim was visiting Terezin, a Jewish concentration camp, he found a small apartment building filled with inviting holiday lights, despite the memories of death that were still ever-present. That example inspired Lance to craft his tale, and the film was finished after an all-night editing session.
“The haunting images of what had occurred there somehow sparked a wave of adrenaline within me,” Oppenheim explains. “The emotional shock of a life-changing place enabled me to complete the film.” And it’s clear that Oppenheim’s vision has resonated with his audience in just a short time after its online debut on Vimeo. In just a week, Reconciliation has already garnered over 1,000 views and the interest of a National Film Festival.