You Are Here goes beyond the stories that are dramatized in the musical or reported in the news to reveal how an isolated community, with a particularly unique culture and character, connected with the world at large by reaching out to people with extraordinary kindness at a time of great need. Those same efforts resonated with people far from Gander, especially the families of the helpers and first responders who died while helping others on 9/11. In so doing, the film celebrates Newfoundland’s generosity and compassion, all that it has inspired and the legacy it created.
Once the Twin Tower plane crashes were labeled as a terrorist attack, the United States closed its airspace and force-landed hundreds of American-bound flights. Gander, Newfoundland, a small Canadian community, was “voluntold” to open their small airport to more than 30 planes originally destined for the states. As the easternmost piece of land in North America—and the piece of land in closest proximity to Europe—Newfoundland created the most convenient landing spot.
Gander citizens were told to welcome everyone from the planes, but they were also told to discreetly treat these people as potential terrorists. However, Gander showed no signs of skepticism, racism or fear. Rather, they prepared KFC lunch boxes, donated sleeping bags and clothes, and hosted their infamous Irish jig parties. They created a 5-day experience that one passenger compared to a trip to Disney World.
You Are Here provides inside, personal footage of passengers’ experiences at Gander, including interviews with some of the Gander volunteers. Police officers, pastors, pilots, school teachers, and Gander’s local officials narrate the story of their “come from aways”—their people coming from far away who needed love and encouragement.
Though this documentary is heartwarming and creates a silver lining to the 9/11 terrorist attack, some of the original bombing footage contains heavy, raw language and graphic material that aren’t appropriate for a young audience. However, the predominant themes of Christian love and personal sacrifice award this film Dove-Approval for Ages 18+.
The Dove Take
While everyone saw constant replays of the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers, You Are Here provides a never-before-seen look into the citizens of Gander, Newfoundland, who cared for all other air passengers whose flights were force-landed on September 11, 2001.