This “Tribute to the Conscience, Hearts and Souls of New York City Firefighters,” to quote the copyrighted official description, was filmed on location in Gotham between June and December of 2001. Pic avoids overt mention of events of 9/11, but overall elegiac mood and weighted symbolism turn docu into one long eulogy. The five firefighters interviewed acquit themselves manfully, discussing their beliefs, concept of soul, commitment to their job and commitment to each other with palpable integrity. Docu, clocking in at 54-minutes, seems a natural for TV.
Though she logged months of “talking-head” footage at 12 NYC firehouses, producer-writer-director-editor Carol Ann Francis ultimately selected a single company interviewed shortly after 9/11, which helps explain the barely contained emotionalism in every take. Francis’ decision to omit direct reference to 9/11 ostensibly gives docu a more universal scope, but film’s overwrought sentimentality — superimposed sunsets, numerous shots of empty boots and carefully posed numbered fire helmets, investing slo-mo solemnity into everyday tasks along with mournful Celtic music and poems by the filmmaker herself — winds up disingenuously invoking the disaster all the more.