Cutting Edge: The 9/11 Faker (Channel 4)

The 9/11 Faker
11 September 2008
Cutting Edge
on Channel 4

This programme tells the extraordinary story of Tania Head, one of the world’s most audacious fakers.

In the years following the 9/11 attacks, many stories emerged of triumph, tragedy and heroism. But one story stood out. Tania Head, one of only 19 people at or above the point of impact to survive, who also lost her fiancé in the attacks.

As Tania Head became President of the World Trade Centre Survivors Network, Tania’s vivid account of miraculous escape and tragic loss convinced everyone – politicians, press, fellow survivors and the families of those who died in the attacks. But Tania wasn’t who she said she was. And on the day of the attacks she wasn’t even in New York; she was thousands of miles away in Spain.

When she joined the 9/11 Survivors Network, Tania Head impressed her fellow survivors with how well she seemed to be coping. Within months of joining she had helped the network to get official status, secured state funding and asked a trauma expert to lead therapy sessions. She even supported the organisation with her own money and, in 2004, arranged the first survivors’ visit to Ground Zero.

Barbara Conrad, a former member of the Survivors Network, recalls that, at meetings, “she would walk in and barely make it to her seat because she’d be surrounded, almost by fans”.

No one questioned Tania, even when there seemed to be small inconsistencies in her version of events. Was the man she lost her fiancé or her husband? Why did a man in a red bandana – known to have saved the lives of many others that day – only appear in later versions of her story?

But, as her fame grew, so, finally, did the questions. In September 2007, the New York Times published a front page article questioning Tania’s account. Shortly afterwards, she packed her bags and disappeared.

So who was Tania Head? And how did her deception affect the members of the 9/11 Survivors Network she left behind?

Speaking to traumatised survivors, the therapist who treated her and the family of the dead hero she claimed saved her life; The 9/11 Faker tells the intriguing story of how Tania Head became 9/11’s most famous living face – and how she was exposed as one of the world’s most notorious fakers.

The 9/11 Faker is an independent production for Channel 4 by Films of Record.

Director: James Bluemel
Producer: Adrian Gatton
Executive Producer: Helen Littleboy

“compelling and shocking … this was a great documentary: gripping and mysterious” – The Times
“absorbing film … a staggering – and commendably unsensational – reflection on delusion, ambition and cynicism” – The Guardian (The Guide)
“[a] solemn, intelligent documentary …” – The Guardian
“[a] sad, gripping documentary” – The Daily Mail
“a truly fascinating programme” – The Daily Star
“[a] fascinating story of deception and intrigue” – The Daily Record