There are so many documentaries about the tragic events of 9/11/2001. I've seen A LOT of them. These are the ones that I found most impressive and important to view.
1.) 9/11 (2002)
Directed by Jules Naudet, Gedeon Naudet, and James Hanlon
2.) 9/11: Press for Truth (2006)
Directed by Ray Nowosielski
This film follows the four New Jersey widows known as the "Jersey Girls," who lead the families of the victims of 9/11 to push for an investigation into the attacks. The best companion piece to this documentary is freelance writer Paul Thompson's The Terror Timeline: Year by Year, Day by Day, Minute by Minute: A Comprehensive Chronicle of the Road to 9/11 -- and America's Response, an accurate report that agonizingly lists every detail about the history and events which lead to 9/11/01 (if you want to know all the facts and truths regarding 9/11, this is the book to read). This video documents the women's and family members' path from demanding an investigation to all of the obstacles thrown in their way by the U.S. government. This also tells the story of the 9/11 Commission in all of its failures and small successes. By the end of this film, you will find yourself sounding like 9/11 family member Bob McIlvaine: "I'm so pissed off at the American people, I'm so pissed off at this government ... because of this cover-up."
3.) Inside 9/11 (2005)
Directed by Michael Bronner & Grace Chapman
Inside 9/11 is a 2-part bare-bones, hour-by-hour reenactment of what happened on that fateful, tragic day as well as exploring the origins of 9/11. For straight-up, on-its-face facts (culled from the 9/11 Commission Report), this is the documentary to watch!
4.) Inside the Twin Towers (2006)
Directed by Richard Dale
Discovery Channel's originally titled documentary 9/11: The Twin Towers -- or simply Inside the Twin Towers -- was renamed to this current title and released as a docudrama, telling true events with major actors reenacting what occurred within the Twin Towers from the time the first plane hit to the collapse of both buildings. Similar to the History Channel's Countdown to Ground Zero, both films are good, but Discovery's film has better acting and pacing, while also doing a better job at relating the true terror and inspiring hope of that day to the audience. Also well done is the injection of the actual survivors and family members as they recall the events seen on screen, and the injection of actual video footage in with the reenactment footage. This documentary is the closest adaptation to Jim Dwyer's 2005 masterpiece 102 Minutes: The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers (as seen in the fan-made trailer below) -- an essential book that should be mandatory reading for every public school student and American, for that matter.
5.) On Native Soil (2006)
Directed by Linda Ellman
According to Amazon.com's Jeff Shannon, this 2006 documentary is "essential viewing for anyone seeking to understand how systemic failures in U.S. national security led to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. By focusing on 9/11 survivors, the surviving family members of 9/11 victims, and their passionate demand for an official investigation into the World Trade Center attacks masterminded by Osama bin Laden, this riveting documentary serves as a remarkable audio-visual companion to the 9/11 Commission Report (which is included in its entirety on this DVD). Featuring alternating narration by Kevin Costner and Hilary Swank, the film contains much of the same material included in other 9/11 documentaries, but it's informed by an inspiring sense of moral outrage as we learn, step by step, how much the U.S. government and the Bush administration knew about possible terrorist attacks prior to 9/11, and failed to take any significant action against those threats. Beginning with former CNN reporter Peter Arnett's revealing interview with bin Laden in Afghanistan in 1997, and ending with the sobering observation that we're still inadequately prepared for another 9/11-like attack, On Native Soil unfolds with a deeply personal perspective that's dramatically contrasted by the galling audacity of administrative spin control. As recalled by surviving family members of 9/11 victims, ample evidence existed to prove that the government was aware of terrorist plots on native soil. In light of their research, then-National Security Advisor (NSA) Condoleeza Rice looks particularly culpable: As one grieving widower observes, Rice either lied in her post 9/11 press conferences (when she claimed "nobody could have known of these attacks") or--worse yet--she was unaware of the voluminous evidence of active terrorist plots available in the public record. It goes on from there: interagency communication breakdowns, disorganized response strategies when the attacks occurred, incredibly lax security at airports, and damning evidence of governmental neglect--all leading to the inescapable conclusion that 9/11 might have been avoided had the Bush administration been more attentive to obvious and immediate threats to national security. In driving these points home, director Linda Ellman doesn't flinch from the harshest realities: This is one of the few 9/11 documentaries to show attack victims leaping to their deaths from the burning twin towers of the WTC, and emotional testimony from survivors adds yet another layer of tragedy to these earth-shaking events. As a tribute to the families who confronted a shockingly reluctant administration and demanded the 9/11 Commission Report, On Native Soil serves a noble and timeless purpose: It honors those who died on 9/11, provides a cautionary warning against complacency among government officials and U.S. citizens alike, and reminds us that terrorism on native soil is a constant threat that must not be ignored." Especially riveting and heartbreaking is the moment when father of a 9/11 victim (Peter Hanson) aboard Flight 175 retells his last conversation with his son moments before the plane impacts the South Tower/Tower 2. This is the first time in U.S. history that an investigation had found an internal "failure of management, capability ..." (quote from 9/11 lead commissioner Thomas H. Kean found at the 4:35 mark here) and no one in the administration was demoted, fired or impeached. In fact, officials were only given promotions! (Even two top military officials were relieved of their command after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941/1942!) Ultimately, this documentary uncovers a disturbing truth which set a disgusting, alarming precedent for the politicians and military leaders of our country: lie and/or be incompetent at your job so much so that nearly 3,000 innocent civilians are killed, and you will thrive in your career.
6.) Rebirth (2011)
Directed by Jim Whitaker
This 2011 documentary is a 10-year record in the making, following five people affected by the 9/11 attacks, whether they were in the WTC, in New York, or were family/friends of victims who perished that day: Ling Young, a Chinese office worker who was badly burned at ground zero and undergoes surgery after surgery; Nick, was a teenager in high school at the time and lost his mother and afterward became estranged from his father; Tanya, who lost her fiancé Sergio; Brian, a construction worker mourning the loss of his brother; and Tim, a New York City fireman who lost almost everyone he worked with. The film documents each year just after 9/11 to 2011, showing the emotional and physical toll taken on each person. The best thing about this film is the overwhelming sense of hope that rises from each person's journey. A beautiful, touching film that has a lot of re-watching potential. Plus, a beautiful musical score provided by Philip Glass.
7.) Voices from Inside the Towers (2011)
Directed by The History Channel
Within minutes, a deluge of telephone calls flooded into the outside world. Voices from Inside the Towers brings an inside perspective to what happened through phone calls made by some who later died and some who survived. While there is a significant visual record of what happened outside the Towers that day, this film, for the first time, provides a moving and emotional record of what was going on inside the Towers. Heartbreaking but an essential viewing!
8.) Flight 93: The Flight that Fought Back (2005)
Directed by Bruce Goodison
Premiering on the Discovery Channel, this docudrama shows the brave, heroic actions of the passengers of United Flight 93, which was hijacked on 9/11, headed toward Washington, D.C., to crash into either the White House or the U.S. Capitol. If it weren't for the actions of these passengers, countless others would have been killed. Like the 2006 major motion picture United 93, this documentary captures all of the nailbiting suspense and terror these passengers and their families faced.
9.) September 11: The New Pearl Harbor (2013)
Directed by Massimo Mazzucco
Clocking in at about just under 5 hours, this is the be-all, end-all 9/11 documentary, featuring the most up-to-date information on 9/11 and its build-up. September 11 takes the debunkers' ridiculous explanations and proves them wrong. It asks the questions the public should be demanding to have answered ... now! I don't agree with some of the theories expressed here, but most of them leave great questions no one has ever answered! Forget the 9/11 Commission Report! THIS is the essential video that should be watched!