Distributor:  Bullfrog Films
Length:  30 minutes
Date:  2011
Genre:  Expository
Language:  English
Grade level: 9-12, College, Adult
Color/BW:  Color
Closed captioning available
Interactive transcript available
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From The Ground Up

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Five 9/11 widows of New York firefighters pay tribute to their husbands by accomplishing extraordinary feats in their communities, turning evil into good.

From The Ground Up

FROM THE GROUND UP follows the widows of five New York firefighters ten years after 9/11. It's their journey, two steps forward and one step back, through tears, depression, and laughter to triumph over tragedy. It's five women finding strength to forge through madness and comfort their children while the world watches.

FROM THE GROUND UP is a personal and emotional account of how 9/11 permeates the lives of these women. We see how this tragedy has strengthened them, forcing them to dig deeper to give new meaning to their lives, empower their families and make a difference in their communities. Turning evil into good, they lift our spirits and honor their heroic husbands in the most fitting ways they can imagine from building a library, starting several foundations and instituting the hugely succesful Tunnel to Towers run.

'These are very powerful stories of coping and resilience. The sense of social support among the families is a great example of preserving their loved ones' legacy. Let's hope that their brave act is contagious.' Ali. M. Gheith, Director, Emergency and Disaster Management Program, Metropolitan College of New York

'From the Ground Up is a remarkably sensitive and observant film that documents the strength and resilience of the FDNY widows of the fallen firefighters of 9/11. This film is a poignant reminder of the sacrifice a few made for so many, and a moving memorial to the widows and children, who should be remembered--along with their loved ones who perished--for they also suffered a loss that is all too easily forgotten.' Dr. Paul A. Kurzman, Professor of Social Work, Hunter College, Professor of Social Welfare, The City University of New York, Co-author, Work and the Workplace: A Resource for Innovative Policy and Practice

'A well-made, concise documentary demonstrating the devastation and loss of loved ones from September 11 while emphasizing the resilience of spirit and action of people coming together after traumatic loss...This film would be a nice supplement to any classroom or workshop discussion of resilience after trauma--it humanizes the concepts with real women and the real organizations that they have built that now benefit so many.' Dr. Donna Flayhan, Associate Professor, Communication and Media, SUNY-New Paltz, Founder and Director, The Lower Manhattan Public Health Project

'This movie beautifully illustrates three important features of the widows' experiences after the WTC attacks. First, they show how the chaos, confusion, and complexity of the early hours, days, and weeks lengthened the time required for widows and children to actualize and accept the loss. Second, their perspective 10 years after the attacks highlights the fact that some losses you never get over, but you learn to live with them. Third, the movie illustrates how a productive, full, generous, and joyous life can coexist with the pain of profound loss. This is an excellent film that provides important insights into the grief process.' Dr. Grace Christ, Professor of Social Work, Columbia University, Co-founder, Social Work Hospice and Palliative Care Network

'Reveals the healing value of making a difference in one's community. A true story of everyday heroism and learning how to channel pain and loss into a positive drive to make the world a better place, From the Ground Up is highly recommended especially for school and public library DVD shelves.' The Midwest Book Review

'Provides a fresh look...From the Ground Up underscores the fact that a decade later, the stories of September 11 are not just about the events of that day but about how survivors turned grief into action. By focusing on community building, interior strength, and determination, the filmmakers suggest that anyone, not just the wives of fallen firefighters, can 'go out and do something positive in their name.' Highly recommended.' Sarah Cornell, Daniel Webster College, Educational Media Reviews Online

'An emotional insight...Alternative communities--such as the formation of a support group, a library, or a charity--are shown to develop as an almost innate process during the collective grieving which has been spontaneously imposed on these women.' James Harvey-Davitt, University of Nottingham, 49th Parallel Journal


Audience Choice, Best Documentary Short, Sedona International Film Festival
Audience Award, Best Documentary Short, San Luis Obispo International Film Festival
Best Documentary Short, Staten Island Film Festival
Mountainfilm, Telluride
Newport Beach Film Festival
Woods Hole Film Festival
DocuWest Film Festival
New Jersey Film Festival
Rome International Film Festival
Big Bear Lake International Film Festival
Crested Butte Film Festival
Heartland Film Festival
Big Apple Film Festival
Hearts and Minds Film Festival
Western Psychological Association Film Festival


Main credits

Gage, Beth (Producer)
Gage, Beth (Director)
Gage, Beth (Screenwriter)
Gage, George (Producer)
Gage, George (Director)
Garbarini, Andrea (Producer)
Martinez, Richard (Composer)
Lehman, William (Editor)

Other credits

Story, Beth Gage; directory of photography, George Gage; executive producer, Andrea Garbarini; original score, Richard Martinez; editor, William Lehman.

Distributor credits

Gage and Gage Productions

Gage and Gage Productions
Beth Gage and George Gage
Edited by William Lehman
Original Score by Richard Martinez
Executive Producer: Andrea Garbarini

Docuseek2 subjects

The 21st Century
Citizenship, Social Movements and Activism
Grief and Recovery

Distributor subjects

American Studies
Citizenship and Civics
Conflict Resolution
Death And Dying
Grief Counseling
Peace Studies
Social Work
Violence and Terrorism


9/11, New York, New York City, FDNY, World Trade Center, firefighters, widow, heroes, Jack Fanning, Jack Fanning Memorial Foundation, Maureen Fanning, Angels for Autism, Dennis McHugh, Dennis P. McHugh Library, Piermont, Una McHugh, Bob McPadden, Kate Richardson, Stephen Siller, Stephen Siller Children's Foundation, Tunnel to Towars Run, Sarah Siller, Charley and Andrea Garbarini, Rwanda,"From The Ground Up",Bullfrog Films

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