America and the world at large will soon face a grim milestone. September 11th, 2021 will mark the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, which claimed the lives of at least 2,996 people. Many films sought to memorialize the event in the years that followed, but a new documentary from actor and film director Spike Lee aims to study 9/11 through a broader lens–highlighting the tragedy’s ripple effects on the city of New York across the past two decades.
Presented by HBO, NYC Epicenters 9/11→2012 ½ is a four-part documentary slated to premiere for television and streaming next weekend. The film aims to create a timeline of life in the Big Apple, from the attack on the Twin Towers to the ongoing battle with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Renowned for his previous films such as Do the Right Thing (1989) and Malcom X (1992), Spike Lee has built a name for himself as a filmmaker who rarely shies away from grim, controversial subject matter. NYC Epicenters is the latest in a series of collaborations between HBO and Lee, among the ranks of films such as 4 Little Girls (1997), When the Levees Broke (2006), and David Byrne’s American Utopia (2020). Co-heads of HBO Documentary Films are Lisa Heller and Nancy Abraham, who commented on the past and future of HBO’s partnership with Lee, stating:
“We’re thrilled to have another groundbreaking HBO documentary event from Spike Lee. From documenting the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans to the 9/11 attack on New York City and beyond, we treasure Spike’s singular capacity to chronicle and pay tribute to the human toll of these historic events, while bearing profound witness to the strength and resiliency of the human spirit.”
Indeed, New York’s spirit of resiliency is said to be front and centre of Lee’s newest piece, exploring the highs and lows of the past two decades. Lee described his hopes for New York Epicenters, describing how his personal connection to New York fueled his passion for the project.
“As a New Yorker who bleeds orange and blue, I’m proud to have a ‘Spike Lee Joint’ about how our city dealt with being the epicenters of 9/11 and COVID-19,” said Lee. “With over 200 interviews, we dig deep into what makes NYC the greatest city on God’s earth, and also the diverse citizens who make it so. Over centuries, pundits and straight haters have proclaimed NYC was dead and stinkin’, only to be proved wrong. You will lose money betting against New York, New York.”
Interviews include unique insight from first-responders and journalists who have witnessed the trials of both 9/11 and COVID-19. Additional names such as Rosie Perez, Jon Stewart, Dr Anthony Fauci and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez round out the film as a veritable treasure trove of visual imagery and descriptive commentary.
NYC Epicenters 9/11→2012 ½ is a production of 40 Acres and a Mule, in conjunction with Spike Lee and HBO. The film will premiere on HBO and HBO Max this Sunday, August 22nd.