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Award-Winning Documentary to Screen Sept. 10-13 at UW-Eau Claire

RELEASED: Sept. 4, 2009

poster for Man on WireEAU CLAIRE — "Man on Wire," winner of the Academy Award for Best Documentary of 2008, will screen at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Sept. 10-13. The University Activities Commission of the Student Senate will present the film at 6 and 8:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday in Davies Theatre.

On August 7, 1974, a young French aerialist named Philippe Petit stepped out on a wire illegally rigged between the twin towers of the World Trade Center, the world's tallest buildings. After dancing on the wire 1,350 feet above the sidewalks of Manhattan for nearly an hour, he was arrested, taken for psychological evaluation, jailed and finally released. Questioned as to why he did it, Petit could only reply, "When I see three oranges, I juggle; when I see two towers, I walk."

After dreaming of the towers for more than six years, Petit spent eight months in New York City planning the execution of the coup. Aided by a team of friends and accomplices, Petit was faced with numerous extraordinary challenges: bypassing the WTC's security; smuggling the heavy steel cable and rigging equipment into the towers; passing the wire between the two rooftops; and anchoring the wire and tensioning it to withstand the winds and the swaying of the buildings. The rigging was done by night in complete secrecy.

Directed by James Marsh ("Wisconsin Death Trip"), "Man on Wire" is crafted like a suspenseful heist film. The story is told through archival footage and still photographs, reenactments and the present-day testimony of Petit and some of the co-conspirators who helped him.

The Baltimore Sun called the film "a gust of fresh air." The New York Times called it "thorough, understated and altogether enthralling ... Wisely, Mr. Marsh, who based his film on a book Mr. Petit published in 2002, never alludes to Sept. 11. That would have been both distracting and redundant, since it's impossible, while watching a movie so intimate in its attention to the towers, not to be haunted by thoughts of their fate."

Rated PG-13, "Man on Wire" also received many awards including the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award (World Cinema Documentary) at the Sundance Film Festival. "The film runs 95 minutes, and you'll be holding your breath for most of them," wrote TV Guide.

Admission is free at the door with a Blugold card or International Film Society membership. IFS memberships are available at the Service Center (715-836-3727) in Davies Center's east lobby.

More information about the campus film series is available online and at the Activities and Programs office, Davies Center 133.

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JS/DW

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