Vito After is the story of Vito Friscia, a Brooklyn homicide detective who survived and bravely helped others on 9/11, then spent months sifting through toxic rubble for signs of those who perished. It is an intimate portrait of a selfless cop and devoted husband and father -- a man whose life was forever changed by that fateful day.
Vito was only a block away -- on his way to join the rescue efforts -- when the second tower collapsed. He was engulfed in the treacherous cloud that followed. In the chaotic aftermath, he helped thousands leave the city.
He was one of 7,000 NYPD detectives who were the last to go through the debris, searching for signs of loved ones in the hopes of bringing closure to victims' families. Their intense work exposed them to toxic substances in the rubble and dust.
The film follows Vito for two years, beginning April 2002, interweaving interviews, recollections and verite scenes as he mourns, tries to cope, deals with denial and struggles with health problems. It shows him with family, friends and at a poignant gathering with his detective brothers where the men cope with the horrific tragedy by recalling their experiences with humor.
Vito suffers from frequent sinus ailments, congestion and cough; he finds himself short of breath when exercising. He often has to clear his throat and is hoarse. Typical of many members of the NYPD, he just ignores the symptoms.
Vito After shows his family's attempt to convince Vito to seek medical assistance. His wife even offers to quit smoking if he'll get evaluated. The film follows him as he goes to Mt. Sinai and finds out why he can't get back to normal. His health compromised, the possibility of serious disease in the future, Vito has no regrets.
Vito was one of 40,000 workers and volunteers who participated in the rescue and recovery efforts. The film explores the consequences of their heroism through his experience. It deals with the emotional, physical and spiritual after effects of 9/11 on a detective who was just doing his job.
What price has he and others paid for their bravery and commitment?
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Thousands...remain ill and suffering today as a result of their heroic
Dr. Stephen Levin, former co-director
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VITO AFTER was in production from April 2002 to July 2004. The film was an official selection at numerous film festivals from 2005 through 2010, received the Best Documentary Award in 2006 at the Long Island International Film Expo, and has won the praises of audiences and critics alike. In 2010, VITO AFTER was selected to be part of a collection of 9/11 films in the library of the USS New York—the battleship forged with steel from the World Trade Center.