Apple announced Thursday that it will commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks with the release of a new documentary in September. 9/11: The President’s War Room, released in partnership with the BBC, will focus on the 12 hours that followed immediately after the first plane hit the World Trade Center.
The new film is directed by Adam Wishart, a British director known for the Channel 4 documentary about Somali warlords living in the suburbs, Warlords Next Door? While an immediately less intriguing premise than suburban warlords, 9/11: The President’s War Room does sound like it might have gotten more access than previous retellings of 9/11. Apple claims the documentary features never-before-seen testimony from key parties like President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, and Colin Powell, plus “nearly 200 never previously published photographs.”
Film and television focused on national tragedies are a grim business, with the promise of offending someone affected hiding around every corner, but they’re not wholly uncharted territory for streaming services. Hulu’s The Looming Tower, which fictionalized the events leading up to 9/11 and how government agencies bungled their response, earned Emmy nominations for some of its cast. Jeff Daniels, who's nominated for his performance in The Looming Tower, will also narrate Apple’s new doc.
Naturally, Apple also has its own interest in snatching up glossy, awards-friendly documentaries. Last year’s Boys State, while unfortunately not Oscar-nominated, was a smash hit at the Sundance Film Festival, winning the festival’s grand jury prize before Apple snatched it up. Two of the company’s docuseries, Tiny World and Earth at Night in Color, have also been nominated for awards from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.