As we come upon the 11th commemoration of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, there are several notable new and returning documentaries, specials and movies on television recalling the events and their impact on our nation from various perspectives over the next few days. Here are are a few. All times are ET.
Inside 9/11: The War Continues (encore) – Sept. 8 at 5pm on National Geographic Channel. This update to NGC’s landmark 2005 Inside 9/11 series of documentaries tells the evolving story of radical Islam’s war against the West. Osama bin Laden has finally been brought to justice, but al-Qaeda is still going strong. For bin Laden, 9/11 was just the beginning. The attack was designed to spark a revolution and create a whole new generation of men willing to wage jihad against America. But 10 years later, these same men have eclipsed bin Laden on the global stage. And their call to jihad has gone viral with terror groups using the Internet to recruit and radicalize future attackers. Inside 9/11: The War Continues examines the evolution of al-Qaeda and looks at the major terror attacks and their perpetrators, both in the US and overseas, during the decade since 9/11.
Inside 9/11: War on America (encore) – Sept. 8 at 6pm; Sept. 9 at 6pm on National Geographic Channel. This first part of the acclaimed Inside 9/11 series begins with the dramatic 1993 World Trade Center bombing and tracks terrorist activities aimed at U.S. targets throughout the 1990s leading up to the horrific morning of Sept. 11, 2001.
Inside 9/11: Zero Hour (encore) – Sept. 8 at 8pm & 11pm; Sept. 9 at 8pm & 11pm on National Geographic Channel. This installment captures the horror and the heroism witnessed on 9/11.
9/11 Emergency Room – Sept. 8 at 8pm on TLC. This hourlong documentary tracks the events of paramedics, doctors, nurses and survivors unaware that their lives were about to change forever on Sept. 11, 2001. With clogged roads and countless wounded victims, Downtown community hospital, deemed too small for New York’s official disaster plan, suddenly became the epicenter of a war zone on that fateful day. And across the Hudson, numerous boats full of evacuees and wounded from all of lower Manhattan sailed to an emergency filed hospital hastily set up on a New Jersey pier. With the rule book thrown aside, each individual of the 9/11 ER demonstrates a quiet resilience as they recount their stories.
9/11 – The Firemen’s Story – Sept. 8 at 10pm on National Geographic Channel. More than a decade after the horrific attack of 9/11, some of the usually stone-faced firefighters have come forward to bare their souls about what they experienced that devastating day.
We meet Bill Spade, the sole survivor of the 12-person Rescue 5 team, who discusses in stark detail the gruesome, literally bloody road he had to navigate in his truck while rushing to the World Trade Center. We hear the story of Danny Suhr, the first firefighter to perish on 9/11 when he was struck a glancing blow by a body falling from one of the towers. We listen to Louie Cacchioli of Engine 47, who details his own escape from the North Tower. And we are privy to the first-ever interview of firefighter Danny Foley, who discusses the death of his brother Tommy at Ground Zero. Heard together, the men’s commentary serves as an astonishing oral history of one of our country’s darkest days.
How It Was: Voices of 9/11 (encore) – Sept. 9 at 12pm on National Geographic Channel. Recordings of 911 calls show how New York City’s emergency operators and dispatchers did their jobs that fateful day.
Giuliani’s 9/11 (encore) – Sept. 9 at 1pm on National Geographic Channel. On Sept. 11, 2001, New York City’s mayor led a city struck by tragedy back from the brink — from the moment the worst terrorist attacks in U.S. history began. Intimately involved and personally vulnerable, Rudy Giuliani revisits the day he was confronted by the assault on U.S. territory. Having secured unique access, National Geographic takes Giuliani back to moments indelibly marked by horror and heroism.
9/11: Science and Conspiracy (encore) – Sept. 9 at 2pm on National Geographic Channel. NGC conducts a forensic investigation to test some of the most common conspiracy theories of 9/11 and mysteries surrounding the attacks.
9/11: Where Were You? (encore) – Sept. 9 at 4pm on National Geographic Channel. This special captures the life-and-death decisions people made amid the chaos of the 9/11 attacks and their aftermath, decisions that affected not only individual lives but often the lives of others in unexpected and profound ways.
George W. Bush: The 9/11 Interview (encore) – Sept. 9 at 5pm; Sept. 10 at 8pm on National Geographic Channel. In an exclusive sit-down interview with former President George W. Bush, this documentary reveals first-person insight into the man at the epicenter of the U.S. government’s decisions in the face of the 9/11 attacks. Taped over the course of two days, the interview allows Bush to open up with personal experiences on the grueling hours and pressure-packed days following the attacks. Never-before-released archival footage and exclusive materials from the George W. Bush Presidential Library are also featured.
Attack on the Pentagon (encore) – Sept. 9 at 8pm & 11pm on Military Channel. Examine the day Flight 77 flew into one of the most famous buildings in the world. Through eyewitness accounts, follow the 757 as it descended to within 3,000 feet of the White House, banked over the Potomac, turned and attacked the Pentagon.
Secrets of 9/11 – Sept. 9 at 9pm on Military Channel. This two-part, two-hour program begins with the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993, and provides a look at the long, secret war waged against al-Qaeda from the White House, the CIA and the FBI.
9/11: Voices From the Air – Sept. 9 at 10pm on National Geographic Channel. This special recalls the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 via radio transmissions between the cockpit and the control tower, and through sometimes heartbreaking cellphone calls between passengers and their loved ones. Along with archival film, dramatic re-creations and interviews with air traffic controllers, military personnel and the relatives of those on the planes, the documentary takes a new look at the confusion and terror of the morning’s events, beginning with the takeoff of American Airlines Flight 11 from Boston to Los Angeles.
Voices From Inside the Towers (encore) – Sept. 10 at 8pm on H2; Sept. 11 at 4pm on History. This film documents the many harrowing and heartbreaking stories — some never heard before — of love and loss on 9/11. This documentary uses audio records, such as recorded phone calls from people inside the World Trade Center buildings — some of whom perished, some who survived — as they contacted family members, friends and 911 dispatchers to provide a chillingly clear mental picture.
9/11: The Days After (encore) – Sept. 10 at 10pm on H2; Sept. 11 at 6pm on History. This documentary from the makers of 102 Minutes That Changed America examines what happened following the tragic day that terrorists attacked America. Telling the story exclusively through archival audiovisual materials collected from more than 50 sources — footage shot by professional news media and amateurs alike — the film takes a look at what happened after the tragedy, examining the texture of life in a post-9/11 world.
Rebirth (encore) – Sept. 11 at 7:30am & 6:15pm on Showtime. The result of a decade-long filmmaking sojourn, the inspirational story of Rebirth follows the transformation of five people whose lives were forever altered on September 11, 2001 – and simultaneously tracks via unprecedented, multi-camera, time-lapse photography (accompanied by a great Philip Glass musical score) the minute-by-minute evolution of the memorial where the Twin Towers once rose over lower Manhattan. According to producer/director Jim Whitaker, “Everything started with the site and putting the cameras up at the site. I just started essentially with the site, and I felt like I needed to approach it from kind of a 360‑degree angle and imagine who was affected at the site. So I had in my head an idea that I would find a firefighter, find somebody who was on the impact floor, various areas and people who would have been affected by the day in thinking about the site.” In the film, we hear the gripping personal dramas of a fireman grappling with guilt after losing his best friend; a construction worker finding solace in new buildings rising from the wreckage; the fiancee of a first responder whose upended life takes surprising turns; a survivor who escaped from an impact floor but confronts life-changing scars; and a high-school student who uncovers new directions after the mother who meant everything to him perished.
The Day the Towers Fell – Sept. 11 at 8am & 2pm on H2. Never-before-told stories of eyewitnesses, including amateur and professional photographers, caught in the horror of the World Trade Center tragedy. Images captured by many of the photographers are seen for the first time on television.
Grounded on 9/11 – Sept. 11 at 9am & 3pm on H2. In response to the attacks on September 11, 2001, the FAA orders all planes out of the air. U.S. and Canadian air traffic controllers face a calamity of epic proportions — how to safely re-route and land 6,500 planes carrying close to a million people. For individual air traffic controllers, the work is chaotic, intense, and deceptively simple: pick a new route for each flight; radio instructions to turn; listen for pilot confirmation; hold traffic to keep airways from overcrowding. From Cleveland, Ohio to Gander, Newfoundland, controllers on September 11th searched for alternate airports to land large jets even as their traumatized colleagues stream back from break rooms after watching the attacks on TV.
Countdown to Ground Zero – Sept. 11 at 10am & 4pm on H2. A gripping, dramatic look, with the most recently released materials, at the extraordinary events of September 11, 2001.
Seconds From Disaster: Pentagon 9/11 (encore) – Sept. 11 at 10am on National Geographic Channel.
Nine Innings From Ground Zero (encore) – Sept. 11 at 10:30am on HBO. From HBO Sports, this documentary focuses on the 2001 World Series between the New York Yankees and the Arizona Diamondbacks, which took place barely a month after September 11, and played an important role in helping New York return to a sense of normalcy.
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close — Sept. 11 at 11:30am & 9pm on HBO. This heartfelt adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel follows a precocious 11-year-old amateur inventor as he searches New York City to find the lock that matches a key left behind by his father, who was killed in the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock and Thomas Horn star.
9/11: State of Emergency (encore) – Sept. 11 at 12pm & 6pm on H2. This ground-breaking documentary tells the story of 9/11 in the words of key political and military leaders, and ordinary men and women who suddenly found themselves on the frontlines of a new kind of war. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Dick Myers, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and a host of other top officials take viewers deep inside the corridors of power during this dramatic day.
CIA Confidential: 9/11 Mastermind (encore) – Sept. 11 at 12pm on National Geographic Channel. Next to Osama bin Laden, the most-wanted terrorist associated with 9/11 was Khalid Sheik Mohammed, or KSM. He managed to elude the CIA for a decade, and even on the run, he carried out attacks on American and Western interests in Bali, Yemen and Africa. This documentary follows the dramatic story of the CIA’s quest to find and capture this once-shadowy figure, piecing together fragments of intelligence from around the world, leading to a chain of intelligence that eventually resulted in his capture and imprisonment at Guantanamo Bay.
9/11: The Towers and the Pentagon – Sept. 11 at 1pm on Discovery Channel. The attacks of 9/11 resulted in the total collapse of the Twin Towers, but the Pentagon withstood its attack. Forensic engineers study the structural consequences of the attacks and explain why the results were so different.
Inside al Qaeda (encore) – Sept. 11 at 1pm on National Geographic Channel.
The Last Days of Osama Bin Laden (encore) – Sept. 11 at 2pm on National Geographic Channel.
Secrets of Bin Laden’s Lair (encore) – Sept. 11 at 5pm on Discovery Channel. When SEAL Team 6 killed Osama Bin Laden in 2011, they scooped up a prize far more valuable than Bin Laden himself: a hoard of hard drives, computers, and personal papers. What was in his secret files is more surprising than anyone could have imagined.
The Woman Who Wasn’t There (encore) – Sept. 11 at 5pm on Military Channel. Witness a unique 9/11 survival story as cameras follow history’s most remarkable 9/11 survivor, Tania Head. Her death defying tale becomes known as the ultimate display of against-all-odds courage. She becomes an instant hero … until she disappears.
Secrets of SEAL Team 6 (encore) – Sept. 11 at 6pm on Discovery Channel. A look inside the secretive group that performed the operation that killed Osama bin Laden.
Falling Man (encore) – Sept. 11 at 6:30pm on Military Channel. It’s one of the most unforgettable images from 9/11 — a photograph of a falling man, frozen in mid-air, his body perfectly parallel with the twin towers of the World Trade Center. This program tells the story of the photograph and all the ‘jumpers’ of 9/11.
The 9/11 Tapes: Chaos in the Sky – Sept. 11 at 7pm on Discovery Channel. Audio recordings reveal the emotion and panic of those responding to the attacks in real time. Air traffic controllers, military commanders and those on hijacked planes relay the chaos and courage of civilians reacting to the moments that changed America.
The Guys – Sept. 11 at 7:30pm on HDNet Movies. After the Sept. 11 attacks, a fire captain and a journalist collaborate in writing the eulogies for a group of lost firefighters. Sigourney Weaver, Anthony LaPaglia and Irene Walsh star in this drama.
Dan Rather Reports: Dan Rather Remembers 9/11 (encore) – Sept. 11 at 8pm & 11:10pm on AXS TV. Legendary newsman Dan Rather offers his personal recollections as well as poignant stories about how much our country has changed and sacrificed since Sept. 11, 2001.
The 9/11 Surfer – Sept. 11 at 8pm on Discovery Channel. Willie Geist of NBC narrates this one-hour special that purports to report what could be one of the last, untold survival stories from Sept. 11, 2001. It’s a tale that was long regarded as an urban legend, because its subject had not come forward to the press. But now, for the first time on national television, survivor Pasquale Buzzelli recalls how he “rode” a blizzard of falling debris from the 22nd floor inside the North Tower as it collapsed. Mr. Buzzelli, a structural engineer with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, was in his office on the 64th floor of the North Tower as the 9/11 attacks began. He spoke to his wife several times on the phone before he began his evacuation after the South Tower fell. As he evacuated, the 110-story-tower began to collapse, leading him to crouch down and hug the stairwell wall. His next memory was waking up hours later on “the pile” — a stack of debris seven stories high. The firemen who rescued Mr. Buzzelli shared his story of survival, but it was not originally believed.
In addition to Mr. Buzzelli, this documentary also features interviews with his wife, Louise; the firefighters, Mike Lyons and Mike Morabito, who scaled “the pile” to save him; and forensic scientists and physicists, among others, who discuss the science and other elements that led to Mr. Buzzelli’s ability to survive the collapse of the North Tower.
Hotel Ground Zero – Sept. 11 at 8pm on History. There is an untold story from 9/11 — the incredible tale of the 940 tourists, visitors and staff in the Marriott WTC Hotel, located beneath and between the Twin Towers, who found themselves at the epicenter of a terrifying disaster. Despite jet engines and burning debris raining down on the building, somehow almost all of the hotel guests escaped. Of those who were still trapped inside, 14 miraculously survived the towers’ devastating collapse. Hear the remarkable story of their escape, and the courage and heroism of the victims and their rescuers.
9/11: Heroes of the 88th Floor (encore) – Sept. 11 at 8pm & 11pm on Military Channel. This powerful two-hour documentary pays tribute to two heroes, construction manager Frank De Martini and construction inspector Pablo Ortiz, both of the Port Authority, who sacrificed their lives to save over 70 people in the North Tower of the World Trade Center. The special gives chilling details from the survivors, as well as interviews with those who knew them best. Nicole De Martini was by her husband’s side when Flight 11 hit the North Tower, and in the special she shares her accounts of what happened — from the moment he said, “I’ll be right behind you,” until the fall of the tower.
NOVA: “Engineering Ground Zero” (encore) – Sept. 11 at 8pm on PBS (check local listings). This episode tells an epic story of engineering, innovation and the perseverance of the human spirit. With extraordinary access granted by The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, the program follows the five-year construction of 1 World Trade Center (1 WTC) and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, including interviews with 1 WTC architect David Childs; New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg; Michael Arad, the man behind the breakthrough concept for the 9/11 memorial; and others.
Killing Bin Laden – Sept. 11 at 9pm & 11pm on Discovery Channel. An intimate account of the bin Laden operation – from the time the crucial intelligence was gathered through the burial at sea. Explore the details of how the operation was planned and executed, and see through the eyes of the highly trained SEAL Team 6.
102 Minutes That Changed America (encore) – Sept. 11 at 9pm on History. This acclaimed documentary uses rarely seen and heard archival material to document the 102 minutes between the first attack on the World Trade Center to the collapse of the second tower. Also seen is footage broadcast outside the United States, electronic messages and voicemails, and “outtakes” culled from raw network footage.
Witnesses to 9/11 (encore) – Sept. 11 at 10:42pm on History. This companion program to 102 Minutes That Changed America features interviews with individuals who provided videos of the events of that day. The interviews with the filmmakers will provide context for the circumstances they were in, why they shot video, what the footage means to them, and where they were on that day.
The Man Who Predicted 9/11 – Sept. 11 at 11:02pm on History. In 2001, Rick Rescorla was the 62-year-old head of security at the Morgan Stanley Bank situated high up in the South Tower at the World Trade Center. Rescorla was convinced that Osama Bin Laden would use jet planes to try and destroy the World Trade Center. Long before September 11, he developed an evacuation plan for the bank, hugely unpopular amongst the city whiz kids who worked there who thought he was mad. His evacuation plan, however, ultimately saved 3,000 of their lives.
Rebirth photo: Courtesy of Showtime