New documentary plays out Sept. 11 conspiracy theories   
By David Linhardt. Mon, Sep 11, 2006

University of Kansas graduate Matt Toplikar isn’t sure if he believes the conspiracy theories surrounding the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, but he’s passionate about challenging the government’s official story.

Toplikar worked for weeks with friend Tim Hjersted to bring the controversial documentary “Loose Change” to Lawrence. The conspiracy film will be screened at 7 p.m. today at Liberty Hall, 643 Massachusetts St., on the fifth anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center. Admission is $2.

“Loose Change” was originally created by three 20-something men on a Compaq Presario laptop with Adobe video editing software. The film uses news footage, declassified documents from decades past and open-ended questions to try to debunk the government’s version of Sept. 11.

“Movies are good about certain things, but even from our own research we think it might have gotten some things wrong,” Toplikar said.

Filmmakers Jason Bermas, Korey Rowe and Dylan Avery finished the second edition of the film this year after Avery did much of the work on the original version, which cost only $2,000 to produce. The second version, which will be shown in Lawrence, cost $6,000.

USA Today attacked the film, but Vanity Fair magazine promoted it. The three filmmakers were in New York this weekend to promote their work and the pending third version, “Loose Change: Final Edition,” which will arrive before the end of the year.

Avery’s first idea was a short story about him and his friends discovering that the government had covered up its role in instigating the terrorist attacks. He found that his research seemed to point to the story actually being true.

Bermas, one of the film’s producers, saw the same vision of Sept. 11 that Avery did, though Avery and Rowe did not meet Bermas until they had already partially finished the first version of the documentary.

For the film to be successful, “we really need a college movement,” Bermas said.

Bridget Franklin, a KU student activist, said she hoped the film didn’t try too hard to take sides.

“I believe we could have done more to predict that Sept. 11 was going to happen,” said Franklin, Topeka senior. “I think we were just too busy neglecting what’s going on in other parts of the world.”

The showing has been promoted by Tribal Vision, an activist group in Lawrence, and by, a sprawling consortium of challengers to the government’s story of Sept. 11’s events.

Janice Matthews, executive director of 911Truth’s steering committee, is also a KU graduate. She said that though her organization wasn’t directly overseeing the screening of “Loose Change” in Lawrence, she was thrilled to see students re-examining the events of Sept. 11.

“I’m just so angry,” Matthews said. “We can’t live in a country where people can’t ask questions.”

Kansan staff writer David Linhardt can be contacted at [email protected].

— Edited by Catherine Odson