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Cantor Fitzgerald CEO Howard Lutnick's story emerges out of the clear blue sky

Cantor Fitzgerald CEO Howard Lutnick, Out of the Clear Blue Sky, 9/11, One World Trade Center
Cantor Fitzgerald CEO Howard Lutnick, Out of the Clear Blue Sky, 9/11, One World Trade Center
New York Post/Chad Rachman

The loss remains. It always will.
Before September 11, 2001, the successful Wall Street firm Cantor Fitzgerald was virtually unknown to the country at large. But after the terrorist attack on New York City, the company became the symbol of the magnitude of the loss suffered on that terrible day. The real story of Cantor Fitzgerald, both before and after 9/11, is told in Danielle Gardner's powerful, eye-opening documentary Out of the Clear Blue Sky. The film, a 2013 Asphalt Films theatrical release, comes to DVD and Digital Download on September 2, 2014, from Virgil Films.
The film tells the riveting, behind-the-scenes story of Cantor Fitzgerald, which was headquartered on floors 101 to 105 of One World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan. On September 11, when hijackers flew commercial airliners into the Twin Towers, 658 of Cantor's 960 employees died, amounting to nearly one-quarter of all people killed at the site in the worst terrorist attack in American history. Overnight, Cantor became world famous for the worst of all possible reasons.
Cantor Fitzgerald CEO Howard Lutnick was taking his son to his first day of kindergarten when the first plane hit the North Tower---just below his company's offices. On September 13, Lutnick's emotionally raw, tear-filled interviews transfixed the nation. His distraught television appearances struck a deep personal chord with millions of traumatized Americans reeling and shell-shocked by the unprecedented attacks. But, within a week, Lutnick stopped the paychecks of his missing employees.
It was an act praised by some---as a necessary step to save the company and to help the victims' survivors---but lambasted by more, as a self-serving, heartless betrayal by a man well known for his ruthlessness. Lutnick's prior reputation as cutthroat, even by Wall Street standards, preceded him. The media turned on him and Lutnick went from the sympathetic face of the tragedy to vilified pariah overnight. Then he completely withdrew from the public eye. Although Cantor suffered almost twice the casualties of the FDNY, the company's story soon faded away.
Directed by an award-winning filmmaker and September 11 family member, Out of the Clear Blue Sky tells twin stories: the saga of the ravaged business and surviving employees, and an insider's take on the unusual community of families that formed in the aftermath. Cantor's loss created the largest single group of 9/11 mourners, more than 6,000 people bound by their horrific common experience. There wasn't just one memorial to attend; there were 10 a day for over two months, forcing people to choose whose funeral to go to. A true stranger-than-fiction account, from the jittery and stunned first days---a time unlike any other in American memory---and unfolding over months and years, this powerful and important film captures what it's like being caught in the cross hairs of history.