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Filmmaker: John Knapich

Simon Leventhal has been a dentist in New Jersey for thirty years. He is also an accomplished amateur photographer who has traveled the world, from Africa to the Galapagos, taking photographs of nature and animals in the wild.

Simon Leventhal on a shoot

His favorite photographic subject, however, was a little closer to home.

Some would call it a passion, others an obsession, but Simon has spent the last 30 years capturing over 50,000 photographs of the World Trade Centre.

This enormous collection of beautiful images - taken at all hours of the day, in every season and all types of conditions - is a unique and valuable archive. The kind of photographs that only Simon - a quirky, exacting and tenacious dentist could achieve.

The Dentist from New Jersey is a love story that takes place before 9/11.

Director's Note:

"Simon Leventhal is a dentist and he is also my wife's uncle," explains filmmaker John Knapich. "I first met Simon about 16 years ago at a family function.

Knowing that I was in the 'film business' he was always happy to share with me his vacation photographs. Simon’s vacation photographs were not your average snapshots. I was always amazed at the quality of Simon's work.

 Director John Knapich with the dentist

Several months after 9/11, I started hearing from my in-laws about some photographs Simon had taken of the World Trade Centre.

I began questioning him. I was under the impression that, living in the New York metropolitan area, he occasionally took a photo of the skyline every once and a while. This was not the case.

Over the course of a year or so, I slowly learned that Simon had photographed the WTC every opportunity he got.

Beginning shortly after the time they were completed in 1970, Simon would hop into his car and drive down to the New Jersey waterfront and take his photographs. Several times a week if scheduling allowed it.

He would shoot a roll of film capturing the sunsets, sunrises, ice flows, ocean liners, people at leisure, seagulls, buildings going up, and even the Statue of Liberty. All set against the back drop of the Twin Towers.

Sadly, because of the events of 9/11, Simon's collection of roughly 50,000 photographs, spanning the history of the World Trade Center, has become a valuable archive for now and future generations."

Source: Al Jazeera