Sioux Falls documentary maker’s film premieres in Kenya

Aug. 7, 2018

A Sioux Falls man’s documentary is helping mark the 20th anniversary of the U.S. Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

Brett Bittner grew up in Mitchell and has lived in Sioux Falls for a couple of years. He primarily does marketing videos and short documentary projects.

A project in Kenya connected him with the chance to produce a piece in commemoration of the attack, which killed more than 200 people in simultaneous truck explosions.

It will replace an older film being shown in a museum at a “peace park” in Nairobi.

“The approach I took was to focus more on the survivors’ stories,” Bittner said. “We try to explain what happened in the attack, but there’s no narrator. It’s told all through the people who were there and who survived that.”

Bittner identified several survivors with strong narratives and shot the piece, “August Seven,” during two weeks in Nairobi and a couple of days in Washington, D.C.

He was in Kenya recently for the film’s premiere ahead of today’s 20th anniversary. It’s a 15-minute piece to start that Bittner hopes to expand on at some point.

“I really liked Kenya,” he said. “In the work I do, I want to hit a certain level of quality and professionalism, and they didn’t have the budget to make that happen. But I just could not bring myself to go halfway on it. You start talking to the people who survived and it’s incredible.”

More than 5,000 were injured that day in an event that was somewhat overlooked in the U.S. at the time, he said. The attacks brought Osama bin Laden and terror group al-Qaida to Americans’ attention for the first time, three years ahead of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

“I was trying to do something with more authenticity,” Bittner said. “It’s crazy how many people were effected. It’s so hard to only share a few stories, but I still think it’s important to try.”

Sioux Falls documentary maker’s film premieres in Kenya

A Sioux Falls man’s documentary is helping mark the 20th anniversary of the U.S. Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

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