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Understanding Impacts of 9/11 through Film, Theater

September 8, 2011

FORT COLLINS, Colo. - The arts are offering people nationwide a way to understand how the events of September 11th affected average Americans. In Fort Collins on Sunday, United Way of Larimer County holds a film screening and tribute to those who died - and served - on September 11th. The film is called "New York Says Thank You."

Toya Nelson, executive director of Serve Colorado, says it follows a national pay-it-forward movement inspired by a 5-year-old boy who wanted to help after the disaster 10 years ago.

"They've taken a very creative approach, in that it does involve a community tribute event but also offers an opportunity for reflection that is important."

The film will be screened Sunday at 3 p.m. Information is available at www.UWayLC.org.

In Denver, "Colorado Remembers 9/11" begins at 9:30 a.m. Sunday, with a remembrance ceremony, a military flyover and performances by the Beach Boys and the Colorado Symphony.

Playwright Rohina Malik has seen firsthand how the arts can lead to understanding. Her one-woman show, "Unveiled," was inspired when Malik was accosted by a man on the streets of a Chicago suburb who screamed and cursed at her to take off her veil.

She recalls the reaction of a man from rural Illinois who watched the play in a theater full of veiled women and college students.

"He told me that he swore at Muslims, and he thought that Muslim women wore the veil to celebrate 9/11. He started to cry and he said 'I'm sorry.' It was one of the most powerful moments of my life."

After Howard Sachs saw "Unveiled," he invited Malik to perform at his Illinois synagogue.

"I think it's really an incredibly powerful message. How do we get to know each other better? We have to do things like this."

Nelson says those sorts of questions are important as the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaches.

"Ten years ago seems forever ago, even though the visuals are so vivid in our mind."

A list of Colorado 9/11 events is available at http://tinyurl.com/3pnj4va.

Kathleen Ryan, Public News Service - CO