Olivier Ponthus - Filmmaker - in a discussion with RCNY about his 9/11 film/ April 8, 2021 at noon

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1997-2002 : History and Geography teacher. 3 years in France and 2 years in NYC at the French High School.

2002-2004 : ESJ (Ecole Supérieure de Journalisme) de Lille. Journalism School in Lille (France).

2004-2008 : TV journalist for several French networks (M6, France2, France3, France24) in news.

2008-2013 : Grand reporter for the former tv show « L’effet papillon » (the butterfly effect) every Sunday on Canal+. 9 minute-long formats only about international issues. I did 47 reports in 20 countries. But I was mainly specialised in the USA (19 reports there).

Since April 2013 : editor in chief and documentary director.


Filmography :


- La baie des cauchemars (52’ for Ushuaïa TV and 70’ version for Globo Tv- Brazil),

co-director with Alexandre Bouchet. Investigation about the pollution in the Guanabara bay of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.

- Un zoo en hiver (40’ for M6) co-director with Victoire Mabille. A focus in a zoo in the moutains in France during the winter of 2016-2017.

- Banlieues : des mères au bord de la crise de nerfs (90’ for M6), director. A documentary about single mothers and their violent and/or delinquents kids in the difficult suburbs of Paris.

- Trisomiques et alors ? (90’ for Téva and M6 same group), director. About adults with down syndroms but still chasing their dreams, working, loving.

- Maïs : pour le meilleur et pour l’épi (52’ for France5), director. An investigation about corn and its culture (overwatering, GMO, etc. )

- Féta : une tranche de Grèce (52’ for France5), director. An investigation about féta cheese : its traditional production but also its business and counterfeiting.

- 5G : l’onde d’un doute (52’ for France2), co-director with Nicolas Vescovacci. Investigation about 4G and 5G and the risks in terms of health.

- Daech : la grande traque (57’ for M6), co-director with Daham Alasaad. Investigation about those who, like the nazi hunters after WWII, are now hunting ex Daech-ISIS fighters and executives.

- 9:59 (60’ for Public Sénat. Ongoing process), director.


The last one is not another journalistic documentary about 9/11, one more, since

I would live in NYC back then. I saw the collapse of the South tower (the second one to get hit but the first to crumble down) from my roof top. It’s more personal. A choc ? A trauma ? At least, a trigger definitely since I decided to change my career after that. I resumed my studies back home for two years and became a journalist.

I want the victims of 9/11 to tell me how it changed their life. Their vision of life but also in practical terms, if they also changed their jobs, location, way of life.

If all of them faced PTSD, some dealt with it more « efficiency » than others. Some still feel it.

I want to know what they have become through that 20 year-long journey. It will allow also the French audience to put names and stories on those iconic photographs everybody saw and that are the starting point of my documentary.

It will be about 9/11 of course but also about resilience, fight, friendship, family and community.

I want it to be the most genuine as possible. With a minimum of comments from me.



And as I told you, even if I have already found 7 victims who all agreed to be part of my documentary, I miss one or two police officers (still on duty or retired or former) because of the very high price the NYPD paid that day.

I cannot imagine not having one or two police officers in my documentary. I thought about Judith Hernandez and Christopher Castro because their story is beautiful, full of hope and symbolizes resilience. It also shows that it’s hard for those who didn’t went through that ordeal to understand their partner who did… Because they also changed their career like me. And because Robert Stolarik’s picture of them is very well known. I’d really like to have them, but if it’s not possible, it could be someone else of course.


Last but not least, the NYPD still pays a high price for its efforts and work on Ground Zero since almost 300 hundred police officers died from 9/11 related diseases since that day !... Something that is not well known in France.


If I can interview one of them who is sick from it, it will be kind of a tribute to all of those who didn’t make it till today.

I’m sure they are plenty of very interesting stories to tell but I won’t be able to keep more than 1 one or 2. I’ll pick them after having chat with them.