By Alyssa Choiniere Daily American
A homegrown story of United Flight 93 and its effect on the community will get international attention this month.
The documentary We Were Quiet Once, filmed by former Somerset resident Laura Beachy was named a finalist in the Moondance International Film Festival. The festival is scheduled for September 26-29 in Mystic, Conn.
Beachy, 23, followed three Somerset County residents who became stars of the film: the Rev. Alphonse Masherino, who opened the Flight 93 Chapel and died in February, Terry Butler, one of the only eyewitnesses to the crash, and Rick Flick, a first responder at the scene and vice president of America’s 9/11 Foundation ride.
The film earned its name from one of Masherino’s quotes in the movie. He said “We were quiet once, secluded and alone. These mountains and our checkered fields are not much changed. Their appearance endures in much the same way that has been for a very long time. Something is different now. It cannot be explained or defined. Our world is shattered, and we have been touched even as the entire world has been shaken.”
Beachy, 23, started the film for a class project. But the documentary grew into something much bigger. For Beachy and her co-producers Cory Sage and Ryan Balton, the film festival is just the beginning.
“Distribution is a big monster that we have to tackle,” she said.
She said she is considering different outlets to get the story out, including educational speaking and television.
“All of those cards are going to fall into place in the next couple months. First, it’s just about getting it out there,” she said.
Balton is working to market the film.
Beachy said having others watch the film makes her both nervous and excited.
“When you create something, you get a better sense of who you are as a person,” she said. “Being able to share that part of you is one of the scariest things ever, but also, I would argue, the most rewarding.”
Creating the film was a process of rediscovery and reflection, she said.
She was 11 years old when Flight 93 crashed a few miles from her house.
“Growing up, Flight 93 was just a part of our culture,” she said. “When troops were going to Iraq, I was getting ready for prom. When people were losing children in Afghanistan, I was more interested in getting my braces off.”
She went back and experienced her hometown in a new way and her personal experiences of September 11, 2001 meshed with the stories of those featured in the film, she said.
Beachy said each of the men had a lasting impact on her as a person and a filmmaker.
She said each of the men responded differently, but no response was better than another. Masherino opened the chapel, Baker memorialized his first-hand account with tattoos, and Flick founded the memorial motorcycle ride.
“When tragedy happens in a small town, it almost becomes heightened. It becomes a part of the community identity and individual identity. Each of us has a different way of coping and each of us has a different way of showing empathy,” she said.
Proceeds from the film go toward America’s 9/11 Foundation. To watch the film or donate, go to www.wewerequietonce.org.