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Out of the Clear Blue Sky (2012)

Not Rated | | Documentary | 3 August 2012 (USA)
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A documentary that explores the effects of 9/11 on the firm Cantor Fitzgerald, whose offices on the top five floors of the North Tower of the World Trade Center were destroyed in the attacks, killing 658 out of their 960 employees.

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Howard Lutnick
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A documentary that explores the effects of 9/11 on the firm Cantor Fitzgerald, whose offices on the top five floors of the North Tower of the World Trade Center were destroyed in the attacks, killing 658 out of their 960 employees.

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Not Rated
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$2,231 (USA) (13 September 2013)

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$16,050 (USA) (13 September 2013)
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This review is a debate over the intentions of Cantor Fitzgerald in the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy.
12 October 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Is this a sentimental documentary erring on the side of historical rewrite or a healing probe into the aftermath of the World Trade Center tragedy? Bearing in mind its focus is on what happened within one company in the aftermath of the fall of the Twin Towers, we debate over whether this doc gets it right.

The background is that Cantor Fitzgerald, L.P. is a financial services firm founded in 1945. At the time of the attacks, the firm had grown to be one of the largest, if not the largest, bond trading firms in America. It had more than 5,000 institutional clients, being one of only 21 firms that traded US bonds with The Federal Reserve Bank of New York. It was located on the doomed 101-106 floors of the World Trade Center.

Howard Lutnick, the focus of our dissension in this doc review, was named President and CEO of Cantor Fitzgerald in 1991 and Chairman in 1996. His reputation for ruthlessness may be as true as it is commonplace in the stratospheric salary circles of investment bankers working in the world's top financial centers. If CF closed shop, Lutnick and his buds would have had a lot to lose.

We agree on the facts. On September 11, 2001, CF lost 658 of its 960 New York employees in the World Trade Center attacks. A few days later, in a miraculous last-ditch effort with a money deal from Morgan Guaranty Trust Company (subsequently JP Morgan), CF re-opened its doors with a skeleton crew. On Sept. 19, the firm pledged to distribute 25 percent of its profits for the next five years, along with ten years of health care, to families of its 658 former employees. These profits would otherwise have gone to the partners of the firm.

Wilkinson: This was a gift from the partners to the families of the deceased employees, and this film makes sure the viewer gets the picture. By 2006, the company had completed its promise, having paid a total of $180 million, with an additional $17 million from a relief fund run by Lutnick's sister, Edie.

Lutnick and the rest of the firm's leadership have milked this gesture of generosity for all it is worth. In the eyes of some, they have milked it for more than it is worth.

The complexity of this situation lies in the uniqueness of the terrible tragedy that caused it. There is simply no comparison to a firm compensating the survivors of employees killed through natural disaster. They had no obligation to do anything. The question is, have the survivors been used as public relations pawns to secure and cement bond sales for Cantor Fitzgerald?

The answer, to paraphrase Mr. Dylan, is blowin' in the wind.

Questad: Who cares if the survivors are being played or not? When the Pentagon was hit on the same day, we didn't hear the government offering special deals beyond policy to the families involved. What about the rest of the Trade Tower companies that were hit – did we hear of generous family packages for their workers? Furthermore, when the Columbine and Sandy Hook student massacres took place and the Oklahoma City bombing rocked our world, did we see the government rush to families with extra compensation?

The point is, the immediate reaction of Lutnick, who also lost his brother that day, was compassion, not avarice or self-protection. There might also be some divine, if not coincidental, providence involved. Lutnick had been prepared. At age 18 he lost his mother and then a year later his father. The middle child of three, he banded with his siblings for support. Though abandoned by family members, Lutnick's college gave him a full scholarship in response to his loss. Through grief, bonding, resiliency and a college that cared, the Lutnicks succeeded.

Lutnick's tears on CNN in the aftermath of the attacks were not fake. His outreach to all the affected families was from a deep empathy that came from personal experience.

Enter your own point of view and read more of the debate at It's Just Movies by entering the film title in right hand search.

http://itsjustmovies.com/review-out-of-the-clear-blue-sky/


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