A University of Richmond alumnus will be showing his film "September Morning" at the Byrd Theatre in Carytown Monday, Sept. 11, which is about his experience as a UR freshman when the 9/11 tragedy occurred. 

The theater organized the screening for 7 p.m. on Sept. 11, 2017, to coincide with the sixteenth anniversary of the historic event.

"September Morning," created by Los Angeles-based writer and director Ryan Frost, RC'05, tells a story based on his 9/11 memories and follows five UR freshmen as they spend one of the United States' darkest nights together.

Co-sponsored by UR's film studies program and the Byrd Theatre, the screening will be free. Following the screening there will be a discussion panel with Frost.

Frost said that he had started working on the project after realizing that some of his lifelong friends from UR were the ones he had spent the night of 9/11 with huddled around the TV and unsure about what came next. Frost had been eighteen at the time.

In a one-on-one interview with Frost, he described the familiar feeling of lacking a sense of belonging as a freshman during the first few weeks of college, and how that had affected who he could turn to during the attacks.

“Your family was a thousand miles away," Frost said. "Usually you’d still have your group, and you’d know who you’d want to spend your times of need with. Being a freshman though, it was different. You just had who was there."

Before being made into a film, Frost's working script for "September Morning" was first put on as a reading by the Virginia Repertory Theatre in 2014.

Frost said he had wanted to take the direction of the film toward showing what it had been like to be the average American or the average college student who was not in New York on Sept. 11, 2001.

“A lot of people remember watching what happened on the television," Frost said. "I wanted to flip that television. If you turned the camera on the people watching in their rooms, what would you see?” 

Nicole Sackley, associate professor of history and American studies, expressed enthusiasm for the premise of "September Morning."

“I think it’s an interesting choice to focus on eighteen-year-olds — their coming-of-age realization of world events is emblematic in some ways of Americans more broadly in that era,” Sackley said in an email.

Frost graduated from UR in 2005 as a history major, back when the university didn't offer a film studies major. The only film-related course he had taken was an Introduction to Film Studies course in the English department his senior year with Peter Lurie, an associate professor of English and coordinator of the film studies program.

Lurie has been supporting Frost’s work and has helped organize the screening. Lurie watched the film last spring, when UR screened it on campus.

“What you see are raw, young adults that don’t really know how to manage,” Lurie said. “It’s a very insular movie. The whole thing takes place in a dorm room on purpose. It’s supposed to be about these Richmond freshmen above all else.”

In his final remarks to The Collegian, Frost said that his film was not what one would normally expect from a 9/11 film, claiming that he had heard people call it “the Breakfast Club on 9/11."

“The story takes place in this nether region of time in that one night,” Frost said. “You get to have fun and be an eighteen-year-old kid this one last time, because tomorrow is going to be a completely different ballgame and you’re no longer a child.”

The film's trailer can be viewed here.

Contact news writer Arrman Kyaw at arrman.kyaw@richmond.edu.

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