‘The Trees’ helps memory of 9/11 stand tall

Greylin Wright, Staff Writer

This past Saturday at the Jepson Center for the Arts, director Scott Elliot, showed his documentary “The Trees.” Mr. Elliot has previously filmed other successful documentaries such as “Into the Gyre and Loving the Bony Woman.”

“The Trees” takes a look into the lives of people who for the past decade nurtured trees at ground zero where the twin towers once stood. They cared for over 400 swamp white oak trees, 40 sweet gum trees and restored a gallery pear tree that survived the events of the Sept.11 attack on the World Trade Center.

That gallery pear tree became known as the Survivor tree from Ground Zero. “The Trees” was filmed on location at the 9/11 memorial in The New York borough of Manhattan, The Arthur Ross nursery in The Bronx, a tree nursery in New York, as well as other places affected by the 9/11 attacks.

“The Trees” takes the viewer through the process of finding, cultivating, and transporting the trees from said places to their destination at the 9/11 National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

“Everyone remembers where they were,” Shannon, a viewer after the showing. “And I hope it’s never forgotten and I think the memorial is going to keep it flowing. Especially with films like this.”

The film was well-received by the patrons of the event. With few images of what happened that dreadful Tuesday morning, “The Trees” evoked so much emotion by the devotion exhibited by the group of people who worked tirelessly to see the project come to fruition.

“I was choking back tears the whole time,” said another participant of the event. “I really felt like it conveyed the meaning that he was intending. His intentions came across very well and the story that was told I thought was just perfect.”

After the film followed a question and answer session with the director.

“It’s tricky,” Scott said, answering a question from an audience member about the gravity of trying to tell a multi-faceted story. “It’s a film about tragedy. I was trying to be careful to insure not being disrespectful of the fact that people lost their lives.”

Scott, a New York resident, spent five years on the project.

“I do think there is a powerful message using trees as a way to revitalize people.”

“It’s a great film,” Said Page Hungerpiller, a director emeritus for Savannah Tree Foundation attending the showing. “The human resilience that we do overcome it. We innately choose to live, which is hard to do, and I think The Trees is such a great metaphor. Against all the elements and everything that happened, they continue.”

The film will be showing a number of six times in a limited capacity on PBS. Starting September 12th, the film will be available on various streaming services.