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800 Steps Apart

by Jacob Resneck in Culture on 16 May 2007

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A short art film, 800 Steps Apart tells the true story of a Russian émigré's life shattered by health problems caused by inhalation of toxic materials from the burning World Trade Center towers. The woman was told by federal emergency health officials that she could clean the debris from her department was even issued a Red Cross mop and bucket for the task. A mere four blocks (or 800 steps) away, cleaners at an office building occupied by an international bank were issued substantial protective gear and warned of the toxic hazards now blamed for the Russian woman's health problems.

Filmmakers Brian Rigney Hubbard and Brooke Singer scripted their film using the woman's testimony to members of Congress as well as the state health guidelines for removing asbestos contamination.

The two approaches to the same hazard are presented side–by–side in a virtual simulcast illustrating the glaring inequalities between two tenants, one a wealthy banking firm the other a working–class immigrant. As artistic as it is political and timely, 800 Steps whets our appetites for Hubbard and Singer's forthcoming documentary chronicling the mishandling of the response to contamination of Lower Manhattan following the destruction of the Twin Towers on 11 September 2001.

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