Country no.1 – Fall 2001 in New York

58:30 min. / 2002 / English (ST: German) / Germany

Tags: 2001, 9/11, City Portrait, New York City, Terror Attack, Terror Attacks, World Trade Center

Twenty years after 9/11 ‘Country No.1’ takes on a travel back in time to the fall of 2001 when official history was not yet written.
Shortly after September 11, I was looking for images of every day life in New York, which continued in the shadow of the incident. I witnessed how ‘simple’ New Yorkers were impacted and how they tried to create their own narratives in order to deal with the event individually.

Director: Kai Ehlers
Cinematography: Grischa Schmitz, Kai Ehlers
Editing: Anna Weber
Production: Filmareal, Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg, SWR

Watch the film on Vimeo: OmdU & OV (Eng)

Twenty years after 9/11 ‘Country No.1’ takes on a travel back in time to the fall of 2001 when official history was not yet written. Shortly after September 11th I traveled to a New York that was under worldwide surveillance. My impulse was to contrast the omnipresent TV imagery and its attempt to incorporate the event into an official narrative. I was looking for images of every day life, which continued in the shadow of the spectacular incident. I wanted to witness how ‘simple’ New Yorkers were impacted and how they tried to create their own narratives in order to deal with the event individually. Thus I found four protagonists, who for me represented a cross section and who all worked in common places such as a newsstand, a shoeshine, a barbershop and directly on
the streets like Scott the mural painter. By combining their stories with
uncommented images of the work at ground zero and the beginning of a remembrance culture, I tried to relate different aspects of the history in the making process and raise the question of what could become. So in the review ‘Country No.1’ is a time travel to a point where it wasn’t yet decided what was going to happen and thus allows the reflection on how and why history became what it is today.

CAST
Jackie Eldehdan, Jack n.n., Scott Lobaido, the guys from Hair Cut Hut

CREW
Director: Kai Ehlers
Book: Kai Ehlers
Camera: Grischa Schmitz, Kai Ehlers
Editing: Anna Weber
Sound: Jan Gabriel, Kai Ehlers
Music: Stephan Selke
Sound design: Michael Diehl
Cover graphic: Sandra Jakisch
Producer: Steffi Ackermann

Producer: Christian Drewing, Filmareal
Production Manager (SWR): Jochen Dickbertel
Project supervision: Thomas Schadt
Production: Filmareal, Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg, SWR
Editors: Ebbo Demant, Frank Hertweck

Distribution: Kai Ehlers Film

Kai Ehers – filmography

Free State center
79 minutes, Kai Ehlers film, funded by the FFHHSH 2019

Helene Fischer – Alone in the light
90 minutes, UFA Fiction, ARD, 2013

Country No.1 – Fall 2001 in New York
60 minutes, Filmareal, Film Academy Baden-Württemberg, “Young Documentary” in SWR, funded by MFG, 2002

I was 25 years old and at the end of my studies at film school when 9-11 happened. Even in my dreams I was haunted by the images of the collapsing twin towers of the World Trade Center. As many others’ also my western ‘innocence’, which experienced the possibility of suffering of the world only as regarding others or the past, was lost. This illusion was crushed with all enduring implications. Afghanistan being the saddest current example. Back then it appeared impossible to me to develop any other project. Everything seemed meaningless and irrelevant for the moment. In the review that also appears to be part of the distorted perspective. Nevertheless and maybe also to question that perspective supported by my professorThomas Schadt I decided to fly to New York to capture a filmic portrait of the city. The focus lay from the beginning on not on survivors, victims or their relatives but on the ‘second row’, the majority of the New Yorkers who seemed to be united by a common feeling of unsettlement. How did they deal with the impact of the attack and which individual narratives according to their biographies helped them to deal with it? That’s what I wanted to show. Thus a portrait of different perspectives of four very different New Yorkers came into being, which also reflects the mood and atmosphere of the ‘streets’ due to their semi-public workplaces. From today’s point of view the film is a historical document from the turn of a new era. The 20th century is still omnipresent, in the biographies of the protagonists as well as in the recording technology. The 21st century just broke in and cast its shadow ahead. Did the ‘simple’ New Yorkers have any influence in the future development that we see as history today? How does history come into being and which role plays its narrative in that? ‘Country No.1’ allows us to search for answers to these questions from the temporal distance. A worthwhile review in my opinion.

FESTIVALS
Krakow International Film Festival
Kalamata International Film Festival – Best Student Film Award
Max Ophüls Festival
Biberach Film Festival
First Steps Nominee