The powerful, deftly constructed documentary “Out of the Clear Blue Sky” examines the tragedy of 9/11 through the prism of bond trading firm Cantor Fitzgerald, which, at the time of the terrorist attacks, occupied the top five floors of the World Trade Center’s North Tower… Often-controversial business challenges, along with the calamity’s vast emotional toll, are covered in compelling, poignant detail via interviews here with Lutnick, other surviving Cantor executives and many of the late employees’ family members… Director Danielle Gardner (her brother, Doug, was yet another Cantor fatality) interweaves stirring, ever-troubling 9/11-related archival news footage, with personal photos and videos…
Read full review on the Los Angeles Times website
A unique take on 9/11, “Out of the Clear Blue Sky” registers the shock of the World Trade Center attacks as experienced by the bereaved families and survivors of one company… Danielle Gardner’s docu tracks the changing dynamics of the firm’s de facto family. With its dramatic arc and intimate closeups of devastation (Lutnick and Gardner both lost brothers on 9/11)… Gardner’s insider’s look at the almost unimaginable difficulties faced by Cantor Fitzgerald in the weeks following the attack and the abundance of coverage spanning 10 years of inhouse interactions more than compensate for the docu’s occasional unevenness.
Read full review on the Variety website
The most devastatingly original and fascinating film I’ve seen yet from this year’s DocuWeeks showcase is Danielle Gardner’s “Out of the Clear Blue Sky”… Gardner, whose brother was one of the employees lost, compiles a decade-long record of grief and commemoration that’s understandably very sad. Yet more-interestingly, it’s a complex work that explores the peripheral sides of death and tragedy that aren’t often addressed even in smaller scale incidents. It’s also quite notable for being the latest in a slew of docs I’ve seen recently that ask us to really sympathize with very wealthy men, most of whom are often rather arrogant and unlikable (see Unraveled, Khodorkovsky and The Queen of Versailles).
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As a member of their ranks, Gardner clearly earned the trust of Cantor families, eliciting some unusually eloquent testimony from her interview subjects. While there are many emotionally charged scenes, the film never feels intrusive or exploitative… Indeed, Gardner deftly walks the tightrope, directly conveying the rawness of survivors’ pain, without reveling in it… Poignantly engaging but also quite an enlightening portrait of corporate resiliency
Read full review on J.B. Spins blog
This affectionate, emboldening and genuinely familial-feeling film charts how survivors of [Cantor Fitzgerald] deal with the tragedy, from employees to CEO Howard Lutnick. His visit to a missing persons board naming his lost staff is particularly heartrending.
Director Danielle Gardner modulates the human toll with the firm’s business realities perfectly; while the city was reeling, Lutnick and his remaining team had to address a possible takeover from JP Morgan. Like every individual’s story of Sept. 11, this one has hidden drama, heartbreak and renewal, adding yet another thread to the tapestry.
Read full article on the Daily News website
…films like Danielle Gardner’s “Out of the Clear Blue Sky” are a kind of Tolstoyan reminder that all tragedies are unique. In telling the story of the near-decimation of the bond-trading firm Cantor Fitzgerald in the attacks on the World Trade Center, Gardner — whose brother Doug was among those lost — doesn’t just stick to an arc of horror, mourning, and some limited sense of rebirth. She also digs into some of the more terribly unique aspects of what happened to Cantor… It’s an incredible tale of how that came together, and Gardner crafts it with no faked drama.
Read full review on the Film Journal International website
We’ve only seen a couple of the docs playing at this year’s [DocuWeeks] festival already, but one that really interested us right out of the gate was Danielle Gardner’s “Out of the Clear Blue Sky: The Untold Story of Cantor Fitzgerald”… It’s even more moving when you realize the filmmaker’s own connection to one of the people who died in the towers.
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…the films are largely point-and-shoot, with lots of stock footage, photos, and talking heads doing most of the lifting. That can be surprisingly effective, as in Danielle Gardner’s intense “Out of the Clear Blue Sky”, about the devastating effects of 9/11 on the firm Cantor Fitzgerald, whose offices on the top five floors of the North Tower of the WTC were destroyed in the attacks, killing 658 out of their 960 employees.
Read full article on The Village Voice website