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Like the subjects who inspired it, Beth Murphy's documentary "Beyond Belief" is well-meaning but less than dramatically compelling. This portrait of two Sept. 11 widows who rise above their grief to raise funds for war widows in Afghanistan offers a moving tale that would have been more effectively related in a short subject or television newsmagazine segment. The film is playing at New York's Cinema Village.
Susan Retik and Patti Quigley were two suburban Boston soccer moms when their husbands were killed in the Sept. 11 attacks. Both pregnant at the time, they turned to each other for moral support, and they eventually channeled their despair into a mission to improve the lives of the women and children in Afghanistan who found their lives similarly torn apart during the ensuing war.
Creating a charity called Beyond the 11th, the pair raised funds through methods like a sponsored bicycle ride from Ground Zero to Boston around the time of the third anniversary of the attacks.
They subsequently embarked on a journey to Kabul, where they personally encountered several of the widows to whom they had donated funds. The film includes interviews with a number of the women, more than a few of whom express ignorance of the Taliban's connection with al-Qaida and the events of Sept. 11.
Generally nonpolitical in its tone, "Beyond Belief" tells an undeniably heartwarming and life-affirming story. But it nonetheless has a somewhat perfunctory and by now inevitably familiar feeling.