DER Documentary

Parallel Lines


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by Nina Davenport
color, 98 min, 2004




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Filmmaker Nina Davenport searches for points of intersection between loss and meaning, suffering and hope, in the aftermath of September 11, 2001. Drawing on the conventions of the road movie, Davenport interviews strangers as she journeys across the country, finding that, despite their differences, many Americans dealt with the national trauma by referencing personal loss and longing.

After the attack, Davenport decided to drive from California back to New York City, where her apartment had looked out upon the Twin Towers. Along the way, she visited national monuments and sites of historic trauma, from the Grand Canyon to Los Alamos, from the Gateway Arch in St. Louis to the site of the Oklahoma City bombing. The people she encounters at random along her way home share their own personal stories of loss, and with astonishing candor: a woman tells of losing custody of her children, a veteran describes his battle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a cowboy reveals that his mother murdered his father. Outside of Selma, Alabama, she encounters an elderly black farmer named Lee Shanks who shows her a photograph of his house crushed under a giant tree: “A tree fell on this house. I was in here.” Davenport argues that each of her subjects is like Lee Shanks, crawling out from under the wreckage. The title refers not just to the Twin Towers themselves and the dividing lines of the Interstate, but also to these individual story lines paralleling the nation's tragedy.

Touching on a wide range of subjects, from the meaning of love to the horror of the atomic bomb, this poignant film is both a classic American road movie and a timeless portrait of American identity–the open road revealing heartache, humor, surprise, but, above all, the drive to endure. Finally reaching “Ground Zero” in New York, she meets a still photographer who seeks, like her, to record reactions to the site. He admits that his camera provides him with personal distance from the destruction. Like the photographer, instead of facing the trauma directly, Davenport seeks to “examine its reflection, the ripples outward across the American landscape.”

"... an affecting personal documentary that proves there's still some heart left in the American Heartland...Without promulgating an agenda, a portrait emerges of a fallibly human populace including retirees, veterans, lonely singles, and folks struggling financially— precisely those usually absent from media portrayal. —Variety
"... funny, unabashedly entertaining, and personal, none of which are approaches that seem overly popular among doc makers right now." —Indiewire

Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards
IDFA/International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, Joris Ivens Competition, 2003
Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, Greece, 2004
San Francisco Documentary Film Festival, 2004
Documenta Madrid, 2004
Dokfest Munich, 2004
Norweigan Documentary Festival, 2004
Best 'War and Peace' Film, Vermont International Film Festival, 2004
Documentary Jury Prize, Newport International Film Festival, 2004
Maine International Film Festival, 2004
Wine Country Film Festival, 2004
Best of Festival, Woods Hole Film Festival, 2004
Leeds International Film Festival, 2004
AFI Silverdocs, Los Angeles, 2004
broadcast, BBC Four, “Storyville” series, September, 2004
broadcast, TV Ontario, Canada, 2004
broadcast, YLE TV2 Documentaries, Finland, 2004
broadcast, HBO, Latin America, 2004
broadcast, VPRO, The Netherlands, 2004
broadcast, SCN, Saskatchewan, Canada, 2004
Hamptons International Film Festival, 2004
Southern Circuit, 2004
Telluride Indiefest, 2004
Maui Film Festival, 2004
Detroit Docs, 2004
Rhode Island International Film Festival, 2004
Silverlake Film Festival, Los Angeles, 2004
Arpa International Film Festival, Hollywood, 2004
Audience Award, Woodstock Film Festival, 2004
Santa Fe Film Festival, 2004
Cinema Paradise, Hawaii, 2004
Cork International Film Festival, Ireland, 2004
Whistler Film Festival, Canada, 2005
Durango Film Festival, Colorado, 2005
Girlfest, Hawaii, 2005
broadcast, Televisio de Catalunya, Spain, 2005
Women in the Director's Chair, Chicago, 2005
Independent Film Festival of Boston, 2005
Syracuse International Film & Video Festival, 2005
Crossroads Film Festival, Mississippi, 2005
Long Island International Film Expo, 2005
Nickel Independent Film Expo, 2005
Newfoundland, Canada, 2005
2nd Place- Documentary, East Lansing Film Festival, 2005
Best of Festival, Riverrun International Film & Video Festival, Winston-Salem, NC, 2005
Camden International Film Festival, Maine, 2005
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2005
forumdoc.bh.2005- Documentary and Ethnographic Film Festival, Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil
"September 11th Remembered in Film," Brooklyn Arts Council, NY, 2007

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