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By Doug Brunell | May 5, 2005

Want to piss off a lot of people? Be an indie film producer with no budget and then make a movie about 9/11. Guaranteed people will be upset before they even see it, which is exactly what happened with Jonathan M. Parisen’s “Stairwell.”
Parisen’s movie looks at what happens when two friends, Charlie (Eddie Fontana) and Michael (Sean R. Walsh), are stuck in one of the towers after the terrorist attack. Michael is a rookie firefighter, and Charlie is a stockbroker who is capturing the entire incident on video. They meet up with a few other survivors and decide to fight fate. You kind of know how successful that will turn out.
“Stairwell” is a lot deeper than any of its detractors ever could imagine. The characters come across as real people with real problems (beyond the obvious), and it seems fairly apparent that none of them have an idea of the scope of the disaster they are living through. So why are certain people up in arms over a movie that is actually fairly decent?
People have accused Parisen of exploiting this disaster, never once mentioning how much the government and the media really exploited it. Parisen just took a tragedy and wrote a compelling story around it (like “Titanic”). It’s easy to see why they may have originally thought the director of The Atomic Space Bug would handle the subject in a none-too-delicate manner, but he did a fantastic job. In fact, exploitive is one word I wouldn’t use to describe this movie.
Those who think 9/11 should never be discussed will want to skip this film. People who are mature enough to handle a dramatization of the events will want to seek this out (despite a few cringe-inducing speeches made by certain characters). I can’t guarantee people acted like this in that situation, but I find it more likely than not that the chaos on the screen is just a small portion of the chaos that occurred in real life that fateful day.

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