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Circling the Airfield: Why Stony Brook Film Festival Booked Plane Crash Doc 'TWA Flight 800'

by John Anderson
June 29, 2013 11:00 AM
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'TWA Flight 800'
'TWA Flight 800'

The Stony Brook Film Festival in New York (July 18-27) is the quintessential local movie event. Its director, Alan Inkles, sells out all his screenings, every year, because he knows exactly who his audience is, what it likes and where it lives. Which is why "TWA Flight 800" was a no-brainer: The site where the flight in question went down -- or was shot down -- is not so many miles from the state university where his festival takes place.

TWA Flight 800

But once Inkles booked the film's "world premiere" for July 20, stuff, as we like to call it, started happening. EPIX ("Flight 800" is an "Epix Original Documentary"), decided it wanted to air the film on the anniversary of the disaster and asked Inkles to move his screening to the 15th. "Which would have been great," Inkles said, "except that my festival starts the 17th." Then, he said, the film appeared on the screening schedule of another local art cinema -- also pre-dating his screening. "I said, 'c'mon!' I understand that EPIX wants to show the film first, but I was selling it as a world premiere and I'm looking like a liar."

The screenings got straightened out, although EPIX will still air it July 17 and Inkles now has the film’s "festival premiere." But if things seems confused, it's nothing compared to what's revealed in the film, which was directed by journalist Kristina Borjesson with the help of physicist Tom Stalcup, who has been pursuing his own investigation into the case -- and filing Freedom of Information Act requests -- almost since the crash occurred. It was in July of 1996 that Flight 800, headed for Paris, went down into the Atlantic near Fire Island (where the memorial sits today) after what many, many witnesses reported was something that looked like a missile going up, and Flight 800 coming down. The FBI's treatment of the case -- and its boxing out of NTSB investigators (several of whom cry foul in the film) -- certainly points to some kind of coverup. 

"I'm Switzerland," said Inkles, meaning he had no opinion on the veracity of the film. "I also work for a state university, so officially I have no opinion, but I certainly wanted to show the film." And he will, on July 20, in an area where very few people get EPIX but everyone knows about Flight 800. 


  • Captain Michael J. Larkin TWA (ret.) | July 18, 2013 3:29 PMReply

    I have watched Roger Aronoff's DVD entitled "TWA 800: The Search for the Truth" from AIM in 2002 and read James Sander's "The Downing of TWA Flight 800"..anything new here?

  • Francois | June 30, 2013 11:52 AMReply

    I'm really looking to see this movie. I absolutely abhor conspiracy theorists, but in this particular instance I am one of them! I never believed the completely absurd fuel tank ignition theory that supposedly brought down the plane as well as the complete rebuttal of all the witnesses of the "accident" who saw something like a missile going up, and was dismissed as "actually they didn't see something going towards the plane before the explosion but they did see something coming down the plane after the explosion!" I often went to the beach where the witnesses stood and you could clearly see so many details of the planes flying off from JFK that it was uncanny.
    And even though the media coverage was intense I remember it being so complacent and unwilling to question the official theory that it was really shocking. I also felt deeply touched by the fate of the passengers of flight 800 and their meaningless death as i often flew on this flight back to Paris. I do hope that one day the true cause of this tragedy will be brought to light, it is very unlikely but i'm glad this film is bringing back attention to it.

  • James | June 29, 2013 6:03 PMReply

    The conspiracy nuts will flock to this one in droves. Please remove your tinfoil hats once in the theater, please. It's rude to the sane people sitting behind you.

  • Brian | July 1, 2013 10:57 AM

    By your logic, why would any "sane people" even bother attending this film?
    By "sane people," I assume you mean those who believe everything the government tells them.

  • Aj | June 29, 2013 12:58 PMReply

    It was a flimsy cover-up of a military accident. And a very obvious one at that. It is so clear after looking at this case that they pushed aside anything that disagreed with their pathetic fuel tank theory including explosive residue, excellent witnesses and other data. Nothing was going to get in the way of their lie. No ignition source for a fuel tank explosion was ever found. What a miscarriage of justice. The worst part is that if no one ever reopens this case, no one will ever demand that the conspiring agencies restructure or improve, so it will probably happen again.

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