The Twins (Rise & Fall)

For this experimental video, I contrast the original 1976 commercial about the construction of the Twin Towers with rare footage of the clean-up efforts at Ground Zero from September 2001 to May 2002. The split screen throughout the video tells a story of the various kinds of labor that surround the rise and fall of the Twin Towers: first the construction of the towers and then the clean-up following the terror attacks. Even though the attack on the towers was one of the most widely covered events in televised history, the removal of 1.8 million tons of debris with the help of first responders, specialists and volunteers received much less attention.
Footage of the clean-up at Ground Zero shows how much of the work in the first few months consisted of hundreds of volunteers equipped with buckets and often sifting through debris by hand.

Nearly two decades after the terror attacks, about 10,000 rescue/recovery workers have been diagnosed with cancer while "more than 43,000 people have been certified with a 9/11 related health condition" (THE GUARDIAN, September 2018). Even though the terror attacks of 9/11 are long behind us, they continue to claim lives with many of those affected struggling to pay their medical bills.

  • Viktor Witkowski
  • Kathryn Zazenski
  • Daniel Birch
  • Ventolyn and Becotyde
  • Mathieu Lamontagne and Emmanuel Toledo
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Experimental, Short
  • Genres:
    history, experimental, found footage
  • Runtime:
    5 minutes 35 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    July 28, 2019
  • Production Budget:
    0 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Short Encounters International Film Festival
    December 5, 2021
    Greece Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Lisbon Film Rendezvous
    June 24, 2021
    Portugal Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Dumbo Film Festival
    New York City
    United States
    September 3, 2021
    New York Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Raleigh Film and Art Festival
    United States
    October 2, 2020
    Official Selection
  • Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival
    Middlebury, VT
    United States
    August 27, 2020
    North American Premiere
    Official Selection
  • AVIFF Cannes Art Film Festival
    May 22, 2020
    European Premiere
    Official Selection (AVIFF Incognito Award)
  • ULTRAcinema MX
    Mexico City
    November 20, 2019
    World Premiere
    Official Selection
Director Biography - Viktor Witkowski

Viktor Witkowski is a painter and filmmaker. He was born in Poland and grew up in Germany where he graduated from the Hochschule für Bildende Künste Braunschweig (HBK Braunschweig, Germany) with a combined master’s degree in Studio Art, Art History and Art Education in 2006. The same year, he immigrated to the US where he earned an MFA in Visual Arts from Rutgers University in 2010. He currently splits his time between Vermont (US) and Leipzig (DE). When he is not working on paintings and films, he teaches as lecturer in Dartmouth College’s Studio Art Department in New Hampshire.

Viktor Witkowski’s writing and criticism has been published on Hyperallergic, the Painters’ Table, in The Brooklyn Rail and the New Art Examiner. His films and videos have been screened at numerous festivals in the US and abroad including such venues as the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, the York Art Gallery in York (UK), the LA Underground Film Forum in Los Angeles, The Artists Forum Festival of the Moving Image in New York City, and the AVIFF Cannes Art Film Festival in Cannes (France). In addition, his paintings have been featured in solo and group shows across the US, as well as in France and Germany.

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Director Statement

My paintings and films generally address questions surrounding the representation of history, displacement, political conflict and violence. My work is driven by a deeply personal agenda: after martial law had been lifted in Poland in 1983, my parents decided to flee to what used to be West Germany in order to escape uncertainty and oppression. Ultimately, my work shows that politics and history are anything but theoretical constructs. On the contrary, these conditions affect people's minds, hearts and everyday lives.