Young filmmaker views 9/11 without the planes crashing

March 2, 2008

Sofia Snow of Roslindale was in seventh-grade history class at the John D. O'Bryant School when a voice on the school intercom called students to the office, and she didn't know why. Soon the teacher turned on the television. Snow and her fellow students sat watching the burning towers collapse, over and over and over again.

Nearly six years later, Snow put her thoughts on paper for "The Countdown," her 9/11 poem. Rene Dongo, a longtime Roslindale friend, saw the work and decided it provided "a good challenge to make something serious."

Dongo, 19, now an Emerson College film major, created a video that illustrated connections between Boston and 9/11, but he avoided clips from the Manhattan attack.

"I went back into my memory of seeing other videos about 9/11 and not liking them," Dongo said. "Mostly, because the way they just showed the footage of the planes hitting the towers. I thought there could be a better way to express that emotion." He filmed Snow, now a University of Wisconsin student, reciting her poem on rooftops and standing next to the Pru.

"I'm not going to detach us from the reality of what happened by focusing on all the conspiracy theories this time, though they're most likely true," Snow recites. "Just the thought of it makes my knees buckle and skeleton crumble."

In the fall, Dongo entered a contest, "One Nation, Many Voices," for short films about American Muslim experiences. Thirty-six finalists, including Dongo, were selected through online voting. The winners were selected by a panel of judges, including Mariane Pearl, the widow of American journalist Daniel Pearl. Dongo won $5,000 for the youth category; his video will be debuted on LinkTV, a satellite television channel.