The first ever Niagara Falls International Film Festival is wrapping up in Western New York. It brought thousands of cinema-lovers together, and filmmakers to the area from all over the world. It also brought a special guest from New York City to see the film version of a heroic story some of you may have heard of.
“It’s kind of tough, but again, I think it’s a great tribute to this guy,” said John Wildman, the publicist for the event.
On September 11, 2001, nearly 3,000 people lost their lives. One of those people was Welles Crowther, whose heroic actions are showcased in the documentary, Man in the Red Bandana. That film closed out the Niagara Falls International Film Festival Saturday night in the iconic Riviera Theater in North Tonawanda.
In the crowd watching, was Welles’ mother.
On 9-11, Welles was working in the South Tower.
“Welles was an equities trader for Sandler O’neill and Partners,” said Alison Crowther, his mother.
That day, witnesses say Welles went to the 78th floor of the building, where many people were panicked, in shock and felt there was no way out.
“It’s been Matthew, through his research, has confirmed 10 people that he saved,” Alison Crowther said. “At least 10 lives, so to us that was a wonderful thing.”
“A young man came over screaming and said ‘I found the stairs, follow me, only help the ones you can help,'” said a woman Welles saved, in the film’s trailer. “He said it in such a way, we said, ‘lets go'”
He led people to safety, and then he traveled up again to help more… and again.
The South Tower collapsed at 9:59 a.m., during one of those trips. Welles was killed saving others.
“We found out many months later, only because I was reading the an article in the New York Times: ‘Fighting to Live as the Towers Died,’ and there was a reference in there by two of the women who survived, of this mysterious man wearing a red handkerchief, they called a bandana,” Alison Crowther said.
Many of the proceed from the viewing at the Riviera Theater went to first responders. Welle’s mother said she and her husband try to go to as many screenings of the film as they can. They’ve met two other people their son has saved as those showings. She says she couldn’t be happier with how the film turned out.
“It’s a wonderful film,” she said. “It’s just stunning.”