4 user 12 critic

Out of the Clear Blue Sky (2012)

Not Rated | | Documentary | 3 August 2012 (USA)
2:25 | Trailer

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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.


Danielle Gardner





Credited cast:
Michael Santosusso Michael Santosusso ... Howard Lutnick
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Chad Anthony Miller ... Family Member
Sandra Palmeri Sandra Palmeri ... Fiancee
Kim Marie Vasquez Kim Marie Vasquez ... Cantor Fitzgerald's Widow


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.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Not Rated


Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Official site | See more »





Release Date:

3 August 2012 (USA) See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$2,231, 13 September 2013, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$16,050, 15 September 2013
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Asphalt Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

16:9 HD
See full technical specs »

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User Reviews

In the business of pathos and human interest
6 May 2015 | by StevePulaskiSee all my reviews

Out of the Clear Blue Sky is a film that ostensibly tows the line of being insensitive in the public's eye, as it concerns how one company was left in shambles following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York. It runs the risk of undercutting the value of human life and focusing entirely on profit margins and business success. Director Danielle Gardner seems to recognize this idea early on, and with that, makes Out of the Clear Blue Sky a surprisingly emotional film about a CEO rebuilding his company in the wake of 9/11 for the hundreds of employees he lost. This isn't a film hijacked by cold, corporate insensitivity nor is it a film that has an emotional core tacked on in efforts to manipulate the viewer for cheap tears. It's a story told with a business perspective with an undeniable human center that keeps peeking through.

The documentary concerns the bond-trading company Cantor Fitzgerald and its CEO Howard Lutnick's efforts to rebuild his company, which was located between the one-hundred and first and one-hundred and fifth floor of the World Trade Center, following 9/11. On that day, Lutnick lost six-hundred and fifty-eight of his nine-hundred and fifty employees, with numerous declared missing days after the event occurred. After both towers fell, over eight-hundred employees were missing, and Lutnick had to find a way to work through the grief to not only save his company, but compensate his employees' families.

Following the attack, JP Morgan gave Cantor Fitzgerald one week to come up with an outline on how the company would be run or make a comeback, with JP Morgan owning the company if they failed to do so. Lutnick and some other surviving members of the attack got together and worked through the disarray to get Cantor Fitzgerald up and running again. Lutnick, in addition, went on numerous news networks to affirm his efforts to try and reassemble the company, despite being ill-equipped with resources. Imagine trying to recall the financial records of the company and its employees when the accounting department no longer exists, along with no human resources department, employee records department, and trading departments. We see that departments that once had one-hundred and forty people were reduced to two or three people, at most, making any sense of stability impossible.

Out of the Clear Blue Sky shows Lutnick's tireless pursuit to compensate employees' families and the immense backlash he faced because of the time he took to do so properly. Lutnick's lack of a formal accounting department, on top of trying to rebuild the company, made financial compensation something that was hard to do immediately, and especially considering the months following the attacks were met with intense grieving, the emotional response to Lutnick's meticulous efforts was negative. Families of deceased employees from Cantor Fitzgerald regularly went on TV or conducted interviews with newspapers calling Lutnick a fraud, who simply didn't care about the families and wanted personal financial compensation. This is an understandable reaction, but the effects nonetheless frustrated Lutnick, who was doing all he could to make the best out of a catastrophic situation. I'm sure numerous CEOs would've pushed on and created an entirely new company, forgetting the old one and that its hundreds of now deceased employees even existed.

The point Gardner, along with Lutnick, makes with Out of the Clear Blue Sky is that this was a situation that had no rulebook whatsoever. Lutnick affirms this numerous times in the documentary, and considering the film is centered around him, and his emotional response to the event is still high, we see a sense of honesty in his words and actions. It still surprises me how this documentary refrains from being one centered on business rather than pathos or human interest, but Gardner not only finds a middle ground, but keeps things relatively grounded in some level of emotion, even while talking business. Considering this is one of the first documentaries I know of to tackle 9/11 from a business perspective, the film does a remarkable job at not only being concise but being aware of those affected.

Directed by: Danielle Gardner.

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