Ground Zero film and book

libertystreetblog5jpeg.jpgThe next screening of LIBERTY STREET: ALIVE AT GROUND ZERO is on Wednesday, August 9, opening night of the Rhode Island International Film Festival. The venue is 9:00 at the Jane Pickens Theatre in Newport, Rhode Island. Festival: 401-861-4445.

My next reading from the book LIBERTY STREET: ENCOUNTERS AT GROUND ZERO is at the Greenwich Village Barnes & Noble, 6th Avenue and 8th Street (396 Avenue of the Americas), August 31, 7:30 pm. 212-674-8780.

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Production Details, Synopsis, Director’s Statement for



Type: Feature Documentary


Running Time: 118 minutes

Filmed on: Mini-DV

Available on: DV-Cam, BETA, DVD, VHS

Production Company: Lost Medallion Productions

Writer/Director/Editor: Peter Josyph

Producers: Barbara Mann and Peter Josyph

Camera: Peter Josyph

Music: “Que?” by Reynaldo Ochoa, performed by Woody Witt & Thomas Helton

      (Sequence: “The New Neighborhood With Music”)

Music: “Maiden Lane” by Peter Josyph, performed by Corporal Punishment

      (Sequence: Closing Credits)

Contact: Peter Josyph, 1-631-643-4505/

Liberty Street: Alive at Ground Zero chronicles the extraordinary world of Lower Manhattan under conditions that have vanished now forever.

The focus of the film is 114 Liberty Street, which stands a few yards from the WTC on one of the oldest streets in the nation. This small residential building escaped demolition when the Twin Towers were put up, and narrowly escaped it when the Towers were knocked down. In this evacuated building, with its astonishing views of the site and the surrounding neighborhood, the viewer is eyewitness to the recovery and the removal at Ground Zero and to the lives of the people who were proud—and cursed—to call it home. Largely ignored by the media and by city and federal agencies, Loyal Downtowners who ran for their lives from the collapse of the Twin Towers returned with a resolve to restore their world to order, undaunted by the attacks and determined not to be cowed by the specter of terrorism, not even on the street where it wrought the most destruction.

Director Peter Josyph: “For me, it’s a film about the American character as discovered in a ghost world largely unseen and excluded from most mainstream narratives. This is one thing that I could do as an artist to respond to the attacks: chronicle this very great city on

its knees, striving to stand up again. It’s a glimpse of a world that was too unique, and too awesome to be lost. You can’t entrust something like this to federal cameras.”

The entire film was shot personally by Josyph during a time when photography at the site, and access to the Ground Zero neighborhood, were severely restricted. Prying into the crevices and corners of chaos, the camera searches for clues with which to envision the morning of 9/11 and interpret its impact. Liberty Street uses no archival footage of Ground Zero, but it does contain remarkable footage of 9/11 taken by Mark Wainger — one of the residents of Liberty Street — directly before and directly after the collapse of the South Tower. The film was shot over the course of a year and a half, starting in October of 2001, and edited by Josyph over the course of three and a half years.

Josyph: “When you’re working with 225 hours of footage to make a two-hour film, you try to use a kind of editorial poetry. Instead of eliminating seemingly small details, which is what’s often done in feature films, you have to choose your details very carefully and trust in their power of suggestion. The right shot of a person’s face as it looks out over the Trade Center site can tell you more about the person, more about Ground Zero, and more about about September 11 than if they spoke for half an hour. That’s also why there is no narration at all in the movie. I wanted viewers to see this remarkable place, and to encounter these exceptional people, without telling them what to think or what to feel about any of it. This way it’s more as if they came there with me. The film’s not an illustrated story, essay, or lecture: it’s an experience. In the end I hope that it’s a positive one. After all, Liberty Street is still there, the building in which most of the movie was shot is still there, the people you see in the film from 9/11 are still there, and New York City is still there. The subtitle says it all: Alive at Ground Zero.”

Featured Participants (Filmed chiefly in Lower Manhattan after 9/11):

      Donavin Gratz (Contractor at 114 Liberty Street, involved in both collapses)

      David Stanke (Resident at 114 Liberty Street, involved in both collapses)

Mark Wainger (Resident of 114 Liberty Street: shot video before & after 1st collapse from directly across the street)

      Kevin McCrary (Volunteer: 9 months at Ground Zero)

Tex McCrary (Kevin’s father; 1st Resident of Battery Park City; brought photographers into Hiroshima)

      James Creedon (Paramedic, involved in both collapses)

David Munn & Fred Crist (Sculptors, made cross for St. Paul’s out of WTC steel)

Scott Murray (Master of the Kathleen, which tugged the WTC steel off the island of Manhattan)

Ike (Shoeshiner on Broadway; escaped Bergen-Belsen; involved in first collapse)



PETER JOSYPH (Writer/Director) works concurrently as a filmmaker, writer, actor and painter. His first feature documentary, Liberty Street: Alive at Ground Zero, is based on a year and a half of filming in Lower Manhattan after the 9/11 attacks. It won Best of Fest for Feature Documentary at its premiere U.S. screening in the Putnam County Film & Video Festival (NY), October 2005. Prior to the attacks, in 2001, Josyph co-directed (with Raymond Todd) Acting McCarthy: The Making of Billy Bob Thornton’s “All the Pretty Horses,” which examines the art of acting in relation to literature (the work of novelist Cormac McCarthy), with Matt Damon, Bruce Dern, Henry Thomas, Lucas Black, Ted Tally, and Billy Bob Thornton. For 12 years Josyph was Artistic Director of Victory Rep in New York, where he wrote 50 plays and where he acted and directed continually.

Josyph’s book Liberty Street: Encounters at Ground Zero (University Press of New England, April ‘06), is an illustrated chronicle of his personal explorations at Ground Zero. Josyph’s novel Matisse in the Street of Flowers is being translated into German for an illustrated edition, with paintings by Matisse, prepared by Galerie Signum Winfried Heid (Heidelberg), which also represents Josyph’s art. Josyph is also the author of What One Man Said to Another: Talks With Richard Selzer (1994), and The Wounded River, which was featured in American Heritage magazine and was a New York Times Notable Book of 1993. What One Man Said to Another has been recorded on CD as an unabridged Blackstone Audiobook (2002). Josyph’s fiction, personal essays, criticism and interviews have appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies.

For seven years Josyph was artist-in-residence at the Smithtown Township Arts Council on Long Island, and his work as a painter has made him a New Yorker Talk of the Town and a Fellow of the Pollock-Krasner Foundation. He has had solo exhibitions in New York, in Texas, and in Heidelberg and Baden-Baden. He has lectured in the Program for Humanities in Medicine at Yale University; for the Cormac McCarthy Society; and for the New York Council for the Humanities. Josyph has been a resident of the Djerassi Foundation; the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation; Centrum Foundation; the Millay Colony; the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts; the John Steinbeck Room; the Alden B. Dow Creativity Center; the Hawthornden Castle International Retreat for Writers (Scotland); and he has been a Knight Fellow at Yaddo.


Liberty Street: Encounters at Ground Zero 
Josyph, Peter (Author) 
ISBN: 1584655518 
University Press of New England 
Published 2006-05 
Hardcover, $26.00 (289p) 
History | United States | State & Local – Middle Atlantic; History | United States | 21st Century; Political Science | Political Freedom & Security – Terrorism 
Reviewed 2006-05-15 
PW Annex 
Publishers Weekly

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