From the 104th Floor: Poem by Leda Rodis

Overview

ON SEPTEMBER 11, 2001, 14-year-old Leda Rodis was in her high school library in Vermont, researching a freshman English assignment, when the announcement came over the loudspeaker: airplanes had been flown into both towers of the World Trade Center in New York. Like people everywhere that day, Leda watched the unreal images on television as the mammoth structures burned, then collapsed, killing thousands. The image that stuck with Leda most was that of two very brave people jumping from the towers, holding hands....
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Overview

ON SEPTEMBER 11, 2001, 14-year-old Leda Rodis was in her high school library in Vermont, researching a freshman English assignment, when the announcement came over the loudspeaker: airplanes had been flown into both towers of the World Trade Center in New York. Like people everywhere that day, Leda watched the unreal images on television as the mammoth structures burned, then collapsed, killing thousands. The image that stuck with Leda most was that of two very brave people jumping from the towers, holding hands. Rather than die in the fire the terrorists had created, they chose to jump. And they chose to do it together.
More than any other event in history, images from 9/11 are forever seared onto humanity’s collective consciousness. Every person has tried in some way to come to terms with that day. Leda decided to write a poem. “From the 104th Floor” flowed through her as if a voice had come up out of the rubble. Though it memorializes the events and feelings of that day, “From the 104th Floor” is in the end a love poem. An inspiration. Love is bigger than terror.
Leda’s mother shared the poem with a friend in Brooklyn, Serguei Bassine, a young filmmaker. The poem’s images dug so deeply into him that in the weeks following 9/11 he would stand up and recite it on his subway commute from Brooklyn into Manhattan. Each time he read he saw horror turn to grief and then to hope in the eyes of his rapt listeners. For a long time he wrestled with how to bring the poem’s images to film without violating the integrity of the poem, or the enormity of the experiences of the people who were lost. In the end he made a short film using black-and-white animation as a way of honoring both the writer’s vision and the courage of the people who perished.
The film, narrated by Rosie Perez, went on to win awards at the Sundance, Aspen, Cleveland International, and Palm Springs International Film Festivals and was screened at other major festivals around the world. The poem, a flip book made from the film’s illustrations, and the film itself are now available to the public for the first time in an enduring keepsake collection.
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Editorial Reviews

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On the morning of September 11, 2001, 14-year-old Leda Rodis was safe inside a Vermont high school library, researching a freshman English assignment, when a loudspeaker announcement changed her life. Watching and rewatching films of the World Trade Center devastation, she was struck most by the blurry image of two brave people holding hands as they jumped from the tower. In that fragile grasp, Leda saw an unyielding affirmation: Love is greater than terror. The teenager's poem commemorating the heroic leap circulated among friends, finally coming into the hands of Serguei Bassine, a young Brooklyn filmmaker. Bassine was so moved that he created a stark black-and-white animated film that recaptured the raw humanity of the poem. This paperback edition includes a DVD of the film, which is narrated by actress Rosie Perez.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781586420796
  • Publisher: Steerforth Press
  • Publication date: 8/31/2004
  • Pages: 108
  • Product dimensions: 5.97 (w) x 4.00 (h) x 0.27 (d)

Meet the Author

LEDA RODIS is a high school senior. She continues to write and is currently working on new projects.
SERGUEI BASSINE, a native of St. Petersburg, Russia, immigrated to America in 1991. After graduating from Dartmouth College he earned his MFA from the Tisch Graduate Program in Film and Television in 2000. Bassine’s MFA thesis film, Because of Mama, premiered at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival and won numerous prestigious film festival prizes, as well as the New York Magazine award for excellence.
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