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ROTTERDAM: ABLE DANGER

by
in Filmmaking
on Feb 1, 2008


Given that he’s just made his debut feature about the mysteries, speculations, half-truths and flights of fancy that comprise the 9/11 Truth Movement, I guess it makes sense that filmmaker Paul Krik is accustomed to finding conspiracy wherever he goes. He’s travelled from Brooklyn to Rotterdam to premiere Able Danger, but when I ask him to shoot me an email about why he chose to make a movie about 9/11 conspiracy theorists, he responds by noting some suspicious activities having to do with Dutch bicycle renting:

“Indruk de en Brooklyn fietser in Rotterdam”

True Conspiracy #1;

It is illegal to buy Gazelles in the United States.

The bike rental joint tucked in behind Engels is open ’til 1am doesn’t rent Gazelles, only Daaddfd — still a fun bike — but I might go back on Saturday and order a Gazelle off the internet and have the bike store ship it to me since, let me say it again to make the point: it’s illegal to buy Gazelles in America. It’s a conspiracy. Who is involved? Why is the Netherlands so superior to America in bike path city planning? Indruk; same people behind Able Danger, behind 9/11 are to blame — to put it one way, the fossile fuel military industrial lobbyists.

According to Wikipedia, Able Danger was a “a classified military intelligence program under the command of the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM). It was created as a result of a directive from the Joint Chiefs of Staff in early October 1999 by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Hugh Shelton, to develop an Information Operations Campaign Plan against transnational terrorism, ‘specifically al-Qaeda.'” The story, as alleged by various journalists as well as Congressman Curt Weldon, former Vice Chairman of the Armed Services committee, is that Able Danger members identified the Mohamed Atta terrorist cell prior to 9/11 but were prevented from passing their information on to the FBI. Subsequently, Weldon claimed that 2.5 terabytes of data collected by the Able Danger group was ordered destroyed two years before the 9/11 attack. The 9/11 commission either did not consider or dismissed these allegations, and 9/11 theorists have gone on to claim that Able Danger was actually a program designed to monitor and control Atta and other “patsies” who were the fall guys for the 9/11 attacks.

Able Danger the movie takes the real-life mystery of the intelligence operation and uses it as the basis for a spirited and blackly comic neo-noir set all over Manhattan and Brooklyn. Thomas Flynn is a 9/11 theorist, author of a conspiracy expose, and manager of a coffee shop named Vox Pop. When an Eastern European femme fatale, Kasia, played by Elina Lowensohn, enters the picture, Flynn is rapidly learns just how much he is on to when he is plunged into a netherworld of shadow ops, New American Century puppeteers, and smartly-accented henchmen. Reworking classic spy movie tropes for the post-9/11 age, Krik uses flashes of dark comedy, an affection for the film noir genre and the perfect eyebrow-half-cocked attitude towards his subject matter to create a fast-paced and entertaining story. He’s aided quite a bit by Aaron Nee, one of Filmmaker‘s “25 New Faces” of 2006, who stars here as Flynn and gives an appealing performance as the Williamsburg underground reporter who, like a character in a ’60s John Frankenheimer film, knows a bit more than he should. With its black-and-white cinematography and visual imagination (the film mixes in color dream sequences and text-overwritten surveillance footage), the film is bit reminiscent of Darren Aronofsky’s debut, Pi, as well as Hal Hartley’s recent Fay Grim, but Krik’s low-fi riff on the conspiracy thriller has a charm all its own. “In case you didn’t know,” Krik writes, Able Danger is based on a ‘true story’…? Vox Pop really exists, the author and the book featured in the movie really exists, Able Danger program really existed, all the ‘conspiracies’ mentioned in the movie are true…”

I asked Krik how he got his movie made, and he emailed, “I self financed the film. It seemed impossible to garner financing for a 9/11 conspiracy movie in black and white. This is the investor’s paradigm movie NOT to invest in. That being said, I’m broke. I’m looking to sell the film and get back to working commercials — but that’s why people want to see it, because they won’t see it anywhere else.”

To see the film’s trailer visit its website.

And for those interested in more on the real Able Danger, Kris emailed a pair of YouTube clips to check out.

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