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Matinee: 'Jason Florio's 911 Story' Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

12 September 2020

Saturday matinees long ago let us escape from the ordinary world to the island of the Swiss Family Robinson or the mutinous decks of the Bounty. Why not, we thought, escape the usual fare here with Saturday matinees of our favorite photography films?

So we're pleased to present the 270th in our series of Saturday matinees today: Jason Florio's 911 Story.

In 13 minutes, photographer Jason Florio relives his experience photographing the attack on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

The interview with Neal James of Photography Daily includes a number of Florio's shots from that day. He ran to the Trade Center from a nearby friend's house shortly after the first plane hit and was in the debris storm after the second plane hit.

He was shooting film then, black and white. He took two cameras, thinking it was just a small plane that hit the Towers. "It's not going to be a big deal," he said to a friend who had tried to keep up with him in flip flops.

He got to the foot of the Towers but as debris came down, he had to retreat, taking wild shots with the camera behind him.

He tumbled down a subway entrance as the dust caught up to him, annoyed that he had smashed the viewfinder on his Contax G2 and worried about his Canon EOS SLR. Then he realized his life was in danger.

He went into the subway hoping to find a way out through the tracks with the other people trapped below ground. And, obviously, he did.

We'll let him tell the rest of his story but you'll have the feeling you are there partly from the way Florio tells his story and partly because the interview is punctuated with his photographs.

Yesterday marked 19 years since the attack.

At the ceremony at Ground Zero yesterday, former Vice President Joe Biden, who was a senator at the time of the attack, comforted a woman in a wheelchair holding a photo of her son who had perished that day at the age of 43. "It never goes away," he said, acknowledging her grief. The 90-year-old woman repeated his words, confirming them.

Nineteen years later, no, the grief has not gone away. Florio's photos of that day still seem like they were taken yesterday.

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