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“I just feel like kids have it harder nowadays,” a 15-year-old boy in Rhode Island, USA, tells his father, shortly before taking his own life. Earlier in Ken Burns' new two-part documentary series, Hiding in Plain Sight, grainy footage from the 1950's shows a boy joyfully throwing a paper airplane. Mid-flight the paper transforms into aluminium and the plane hits the World Trade Center, the scene cutting cleanly to footage from Sept 11, 2001.
The second episode in the two-part series is entitled Resilience, following The Storm. Focusing on the notion of hitting rock bottom and the possibility of rising to recovery, almost jarringly, most of the stories recounted in the first episode take a turn. Some of the individuals who felt like they were underwater start to speak of birdsong and blue skies. The legitimate need for advocacy pushes the documentary toward actionable hope and warmer endings—albeit not perfectly sunny. As one boy says, “I guess I'm not sad, but I still am.” But after the depths of the first episode, the silence of those somewhere off screen and outside the frame, at their rock bottom, resounds. How many will find their way out? While the second episode acknowledges this, it leaves little time to mourn. The pain of The Storm is soothed too soon in its sequel, hope offered too quickly.