For the uninitiated, Father Mychal Judge was the first recorded victim of 9/11. The FDNY chaplain was killed by falling rubble when he followed the firemen into one of the buildings. He was also gay—albeit presumably celibate—a fact that made him instantly controversial, since gay activists seized on this fact, while conservative Catholics wanted to bury or at least downplay it. Glenn Holsten’s documentary Saint of 9/11 is a fairly straightforward look at Judge’s life through archival footage and remembrances of those who knew him.
The film has been criticized in some quarters for being too reverent—something it’s suggested Judge himself would have disliked—but there’s no denying that it creates a compelling and moving picture of a man who, while not outspoken about his own gayness (for fear it would interfere with his work), was very active in areas where the church refused to tread (AIDS victims in the early 1980s, for example). The image of Judge is that of a man whose humanity touched everyone he came into contact with, and even if that might be a little simplistic and too clear-cut for a well-rounded view of an obviously complicated man, it’s also one that contains enough truth to work on its own terms.
— reviewed by Ken Hanke