A Tale of Two Brothers

By Tk Published on .

There have, of course, been a slew of documentaries about 9/11, and shortly after the disaster, John Kenney, a senior copywriter at Ogilvy/New York, who had no prior directing experience, never imagined he'd be adding to the pile. But his older brother, Tom, a FEMA rescue team leader from Massachusetts, whose unit was the first FEMA team on the scene, presented him with what amounted to a filmic imperative: "I was blown away by the incongruity of me living and working here and being unable to help, while my brother, who didn't even live here, is risking his life at ground zero," says Kenney. "By late October, the idea had seized me." And so began the simple, moving Looking for My Brother, co-directed by Kenney and his former Ogilvy partner Rick Knief, now at FCB/New York, and edited by Eric Carlson at Chinagraph, with music by Human. The one-hour videotaped doc is narrated by Kenney and anchored by extended interviews with Tom Kenney (seen below) and Boston Herald reporter Laurel Sweet, who traveled with his FEMA team. Their calmly detailed recollections are vivid and strangely riveting, and the film also deftly traces the life of the Kenney clan, showing how the brothers' paths diverged. And, as the event marked a sea change for so many, Kenney, too, may be seeking new vistas. "I'll definitely make another documentary or a feature, this is not a one-shot deal," he avers. Brother was screened once in Manhattan during the summer, but didn't see airtime during the 9/11 anniversary, though it's being entered in Sundance and other festivals. "I'd like this to be a stepping-stone to a directing career, but I'm not interested in commercials," says Kenney, who notes the films of Errol Morris as an inspiration. "I'm interested in stories about people."
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