WTC VIEW was the first play from The New York International Fringe Festival to make the leap to the big screen in 2005, but playwright Brian Sloan resisted the temptation to fundamentally change the nature of his play by opening it up beyond the one apartment in which it takes place. The metaphor of a man trapped inside his own denial of the trauma he felt when the Twin Towers fell on 9/11 has such perfect resonance with the claustrophobia of a story that takes place entirely in the apartment from which he saw them fall. Eric, played brilliantly by Michael Urie, spends the play ostensibly trying to find a roommate in the days following the attack, but as each prospective roommate inspects the apartment, the film becomes a cross-section of New York’s reaction to the tragedy, and Eric’s best friend, Josie, becomes the voice of reason as she helplessly tries to make Eric see that he’s not as calm as he thinks he is.
The film is based on Sloan’s own experience of placing an ad for a roommate just before 9/11, and his surprise when, even as the rubble of the towers was still smoking, getting a plethora of replies from people seeking housing. When I spoke with him by phone on February 28, 2015, it was before the 10-year cast reunion and screening of the 2005 film at theAnthology Screen Archives on March 2, as well as the film’s March 3 release on iTunes. Resisting the temptation was one of the things we discussed, as well as his subtle, but effective use of sounds as emotional cues from outside the apartment. We also talked about his own reaction to 9/11, which he himself witnessed from his own nearby apartment, the psychology of trauma on the population of New York, as well as the knee-jerk reaction of the MPAA rating board to films with gay characters, and why he chose to release WTC VIEW unrated.
WTC VIEW is a film about trauma, denial, and the way life went on after 9/11. Michael Urie stars as Eric, who placed an ad for a roommate the day before the World Trade Center towers fell, and is surprised when he receives so many replies from people seeking housing for a variety of reasons. Set entirely in the apartment, Eric’s denial of his own issues in the wake of the tragedy intersects with the experiences of the people who come to inspect the apartment, and with the unwelcome, but caring, intervention of his best friend, Josie, who insists that Eric is not as together as he thinks he is. The film co-stars Elizabeth Kapplow, Jeremy Beazlie, Lucas Papelias, Michael Linstroth, Nick Potenzieri, and Jay Gillespie. Sloan directed from his own script, which was based on his play of the same name. It was the first play from the New York International Fringe Festival to be made into a movie.