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CREDIT: ALLAN TANNENBAUM

Northern Irish Filmmaker Chronicling the Rebuilding of the World Trade Center

16 IRISH AMERICA OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2014

CREDIT: THE PORT AUTHORITY OF NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY

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orthern Irish filmmaker and artist Marcus Robinson’s award winning, mixed media documentary “Rebuilding the World Trade Center” debuted on the History Channel September 11th, in a two-hour special. A project eight years in the making, which chronicles the construction of One World Trade Center from laying the foundation to the topping of the spire, was screened on Channel 4 in the U.K. in 2013 to critical and public acclaim. On September 3rd at a screening event on the 68th floor of 4 World Trade Center, Robinson was presented with a BAFTA Television Craft Award for Photography – Factual by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts New York. Remarkably though, the project isn’t actually complete, and the two-hour History Channel special is just one part of a far greater artistic endeavor that mixes painting, sketches, film and digital imagery into a complete installation designed to open in conjunction with the completion of the entire World Trade Center site. As with any work of this scale, Robinson is supported by numerous organizations, including Tourism Ireland, History Channel, BAFTA, Invest Northern Ireland, NI Bureau, and is being produced by Lion television. Gary Hanley, head of Invest Northern Ireland Americas, said Robinson represents a new era for creative artists in Northern Ireland (even though he’s working in the U.S.). “His vision, tenacity, and determination is yet another example of the world class talent and creativity of our people,” he said. “It’s a labor of love and it’s a labor of total commitment,” Robinson says in the film

Robinson, who has created several documentaries on other large-scale construction projects, focuses as much on the site, its memory, and the reconstruction process as he does on the workers who are laboring to erect the edifice. Doing so, he presents voices not often heard in the debates around national consciousness, collective grief, and the symbolism of the site. But Robinson wants viewers to know they’re a part of it, from ironworkers to carpenters. “They are healing a scar in the bedrock of the city, in its skyline,” he says. “And in many ways what they are doing is part of a much greater act of rebuilding and healing.” “Rebuilding” focuses heavily on their personal stories too, many of which include a family history of construction work. For a lot of workers, their parents or grandparents helped build the original World Trade Center, giving this project a sense of collective closure and enduring legacy. “We work out in the rain, the sun, the snow, and for the rest of my life or my children’s lives, I can say, ‘You know grandma or mommy helped build this building,’” Chantelle Campbell, a carpenter with Rogers and Son, says in the film. But it’s not all serious, and Robinson captures the difficulty and comedy of constructing such a high profile building. The trailer for “Rebuilding” has Scott Zelenak, chief of surveyors for the Port Authority at the TOP: Marcus Robinson on site at the World Trade Center in 2011. ABOVE: Topping the spire of One World World Trade Center, touching on Trade Center, May 10, 2013. the constant struggle between trailer. He arrived on site in 2006 and set up engineers and designers. 13 time-lapse cameras around the site to “We’re talking about four or five of the document its progress. At first though, he world’s tallest buildings in one spot. The arwas unsure how his project would be re- chitects, the designers, the things that they ceived by the construction workers he are trying to do, are fantastic, believe me it’s sought to capture in action. utterly beautiful. But to be the guy who has “I didn’t know how guys were going to to put it together? It’s a helpless hopeless react if I turned up with pencils and paper… task,” he laughs. And I was drawing and there were three “I don’t know how people go home at towering figures above me and they all the end of the day and say ‘I just put up a looked down and seemed interested in what 200-ton column.’ Where else does that I was doing and one guy said, ‘look, how happen?” would I get a drawing like that?’” – Adam Farley

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