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World Trade Center Movie Hits Theaters

Oliver Stone's movie "World Trade Center" opens in the United States this week. It's the second movie from Hollywood this year to document the events on September 11, 2001. The film is being released just four weeks ahead of the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks. It is drawing critical acclaim from movie critics and mixed feelings from some of the families of those who died. VOA's Kane Farabaugh attended the New York premiere to talk to the stars about why they made the film, and to the families about how this affects their lives.

Going to the movies this year has been difficult for Carie Lemack. Her mother died during the September 11th, 2001 terror attacks. "I didn't want to have to see my mom's murder. I didn't want to have to re-experience it every time I went to a movie." Just seeing the previews for the World Trade Center movie was enough to draw out her emotions.

But the focus of "World Trade Center" is not Carie Lemack's mother, or the reasons or consequences of the worst terror attack on the United States.

It is the story of two Port Authority police officers -- Will Jimeno and Mike McLoughlin -- who against all odds lived through the collapse of the twin towers. They were two of the last people to be pulled out of the rubble alive.

Will Jimeno, now retired, says, "Our story is no different than anyone else's. The only difference is we were buried under there and we were the only two -- we didn't find out until a year later that we were the only two guys -- that survived from under it."

The film's director is Oliver Stone, known for his controversial political dramas such as "JFK" and "Nixon." But controversy is noticeably absent in "World Trade Center." Stone says it's just a story about two people who survived an event that is fading from memory only five years later.

"I think already many things have been forgotten," he says. "There are many details in the film that will remind people."

His effort to remind people blended with a commitment to historical accuracy. Not only was Will Jimeno the central character in the film, he and Mike McLoughlin were technical advisors on the set. Jimeno says the story accurately depicts what happened. "Hollywood -- Oliver, Paramount, Double Feature Films -- they all hung up their agendas, they all hung up their egos and they said, 'You know what, with our talent we [have] got to get this right, not only for America, but for the world,' and they did."

Actor Nicholas Cage attended the film's premiere in New York alongside Mike McLoughlin, the man he plays. Many of the other people portrayed in the film also got their first glimpse at the completed movie.

Scott Fox was one of the first responders to rescue Will and Mike from the rubble. "This little nice world that we live in can be taken away from us at any time, and this is a film that will just remind you, you know? I think it will keep you from ever getting complacent and I think it's a good picture."

Screenwriter Andrea Berloff says that's the most important kind of praise. "I'm just so pleased that all of the cops and all of the firemen who were involved are happy with it. You know, we had one fireman who told us that this brought him closure. You know, that really gets me."

One person still looking for closure at the film's premiere is the man who led the city through the crisis, former Mayor Rudy Guliani.

We asked Mr. Guliani, "You walked through it and you lived it yourself. Is it something that's stressful and traumatic for you to watch again on the screen?

Mr. Guliani said, "I find that it's helpful to relive it. So for me, maybe it's a form of therapy, or getting over it, or dealing with it, or I find it's useful to talk about it. So I think it's a good thing to have people reminded of it. And I think it's important to face reality. This is reality and it's important to face it and deal with it."

Advance screenings of the film have drawn critical praise for the depiction of events. Many family members of September 11th victims have indicated they plan to see the movie.

Some, such as Monica Iken, would like to see more of the profits benefit September 11th organizations. "If they do well, if the movie is well received, to give some more money towards the memorial and the museum which needs to sustain the test of time and needs the money to do that."

Paramount Pictures says it will donate10 percent of the box office receipts from the first five days to several September 11th charities.

The film opens this week in the United States, and internationally in September.